Prominent Dalit Scholar Krishna Kirwale Murdered

Kirwale was hacked to death by his carpenter according to a preliminary report. Activists however are not convinced and suspect political motivations.

Krishna Kirwale, a prominent scholar of the Ambedkarite movement and former head of the Marathi language department in Shivaji University, was hacked to death at his house in Arihant Colony, near the university in Kolhapur on March 3. The police arrested the accused late that night.

According to a primary investigation, the accused stabbed Kirwale to death in a fit of rage because Kirwale had not paid a bill. However, the police said they were also considering political or social motivations behind the murder.

According to sources, Pritam Patil, a carpenter who had done furniture work at Kirwale’s house, entered the scholar’s house in the afternoon and had verbal dispute over the payment of dues. In a fit of rage, Patil hacked Kirwale in his bedroom.

Vishwas Nangare Patil, inspector general, Kolhapur, said, “We got a call from a neighbour of Dr Kirwale at 3-4 in afternoon on March 3 that he was hacked to death by carpenter. His wife was witness to the murder as carpenter Pritam Patil had come to their home to demand due of payment of carpentary work he had done at Dr Kirwale’s house. After some time they had verbal fight and then, Patil with sharp weapon, hacked his body. When Dr Kirwale’s wife reached the bedroom, Kirwale was lying in pool of blood. She called the neighbours immediately.”

He added, “Police reached his home and moved Dr Kirwale to the government hospital where he was declared brought dead. Meanwhile Pritam Patil, who runs furniture shop, fled along with his father.”

Meanwhile, followers and members of the Ambedkarite movement, professors from Shivaji University and Kirwale’s students gathered outside his house when they received the information. They were of the opinion that this was a socially and politically motivated murder as Kirwale had received threats from the Sanatan Sanstha earlier. According to them, this was a murder along the lines of  anti-superstition crusader Narendra Dabholkar, rationalist and veteran communist leader Govind Pansare and renowned scholar M.M. Kalburgi.

When the investigating officer told them that a personal dispute might be the reason for the murder, activists raised slogans demanding justice and asked the police officer to take back his statement. The situation became strained for some time. They were assured by the inspector general of quick justice though that only pacified the activists for a while.

Later that night, the police arrested Pritam Patil under Section 302 of the IPC and charged his mother under Section 201 for abetting the murder by disposing of evidence.

Kirwale was born in Beed district of Marathawada in May 4, 1954,  and had studied MA and PhD in Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar University. He had also studied drama from the university.

He worked extensively on Dalits, Dalit movements, Ambedkar and his literature led him to become prominent figure in Dalit and Ambedkarite movements. He wrote several books, including, Ambedkar Shahiri- Ek Shodh (Poetry of Ambedkar-research). He had also chaired many literature festivals like the 31st Asmitadarshan Literature Festival, second All India Youth Ambedkarite Festival among many.

Ramdas Bandu Athawale, minister of state for social justice and empowerment  and founder of Republic Party of India, condemned the killing of Kirwale. “Dr Kirwale, scholar of Dalit and Ambedkarite movements, was a think-tank of the social movements. His death is a big loss and will create big gap in the movement. We want the Central Bureau of Investigation’s enquiry to probe the murder.”

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