The brutal murder of the Kannada scholar M.M. Kalburgi in August last year had resulted in a sharp reaction from Indian intellectuals, literary scholars and artists. Earlier, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was killed in Pune and Govind Pansare in Kolhapur in Maharashtra. Reacting to these attacks on intellectuals, several artists and writers had returned their awards to the awarding bodies as a way of protest.
Though in none of the three cases have the respective state governments been able to get to the bottom of these attacks, there has been some progress in the Dabholkar murder case. Despite appeals from individuals and concerned bodies from all parts of the country and even outside, the investigation in Kalburgi’s murder has made negligible progress.
In order to protest the government’s indifferent attitude to such an important case and to remember Kalburgi, a silent walk is being staged in Dharwad on August 30, the day that marks a year since the tragic killing. Over 90 organisations from Karnataka and a similarly large number of orgaisations from outside have come together to hold the walk and a public meeting following the march.
The organisations that have converged on this issue include cultural bodies, student organisations, literary associations, professional unions, women’s organisations and various colleges and publishing houses. Important literary figures participating in the march range from octogenarian poet Channavir Kanavi to the teenage award-winning writer Muddu Theerthally. Writers from several states, ranging from Punjab to Kerala, have come together in Dharwad on the morning of the 30th. Similarly, the spouses of the three victims of intolerance are also present at the silent walk.
Local organisers of the event have received messages from several important thinkers and social activists from across the country. Among the speakers at the open meeting following the silent walk are writer and editor, Antara Dev Sen, media persons Kumar Ketkar and Siddharth Varadarajan, novelist Rajan Khan, poet Sanjeev Khandekar and film artist Anjum Rajbali.
Nearly 1,000 literary persons from Karnataka arrived in Dharwad on the August 30 to participate in the protest and eminent scholars like Rahmant Tarikere, Rajendra Chenni, Narahari Balasubramanyam, Chandrashekhar Patil (Champa), B. Suresh, K.S. Bhagwan, Muzaffar Asadi, Sarju Katkar, T.R. Chandrashekhar, G. Rajashekhar and many others will address the meeting to be held at the Town Hall located on the R. L. S. Campus. A compilation of essays about Kalburgi is being released on the occasion.
A similar protest was organised in Maharashtra on August 20 in Dabholkar’s memory. The growing restlessness and unease among intellectuals about the government’s indifference to the attacks on intellectuals is likely to be expressed during the public meeting. Given the scale of the protest, all eyes remain focused on Dharwad on August 30.
Ganesh Devy, writer and activist, is founder director of the Bhasha Research Centre and has chaired the People’s Linguistic Survey of India.