QRant: MM Kalburgi’s Murder is an Attack on Free Speech
Two men ride up on a bike, knock on a 78-year-old man’s door, shoot him in the head and ride off.
MM Kalburgi wasn’t the victim of an ordinary crime. He wasn’t killed for money or property. He was killed because he held strong, rationalist views.
A former Kannada University vice-chancellor, Kalburgi spoke out against idol worship and superstition, in addition to his work on Kannada language and literature for which he received the Sahitya Akademi award.
What could have been so threatening about a writer who was nearly 80 years old?
Yes, he spoke out against superstition and obscurantism. But he didn’t force his views on people. He didn’t engage in violence. And he didn’t shoot anyone between the eyes.
On the day of Kalburgi’s death, Bhuvith Shetty, a Bajrang Dal leader threatened another rationalist, KS Bhagwan.
In August 2013, Narendra Dhabolkar, also a rationalist, was murdered in Maharashtra. The case remains unsolved.
Are we allowed to disagree with their views? Of course. Are we allowed threaten and kill them. Of course not.
As Indians, we are proud of our democracy and freedom of expression. At the rate we are going, there won’t be much to be proud of for long.