Co-convenor of the Bajrang Dal's Bantwal cell, Bhuvith Shetty, triggered a controversy on Sunday by welcoming the assassination of scholar MM Kalburgi who was shot dead at his house in Dharwad.
"Then it was UR Ananthamurthy and now MM Kalburgi. Mock Hinduism and die dogs (sic.) death. And dear KS Bhagwan you are next," Shetty tweeted.
Kalburgi, 77, was shot in the head from close range when he opened the door of his house in Kalyan Nagar suburb. He was controversial for his independent views on social and religious matters.
Members of Left and progressive groups that staged protests across Karnataka following professor Kalburgi's killing alleged Shetty's tweet indicated that Hindutva groups were behind Kalburgi's assassination.
Shetty laughed off the allegations, although Mangalore police registered a case against him for promoting enmity between communities and criminal intimidation. “I vented my anger spontaneously but that doesn’t mean I or people from my organisation have killed Kalburgi. As for Bhagwan, he should know that he too could be targeted for his anti-Hindu statements. That doesn’t mean my organisation or I want to kill him.”
While Shetty's Twitter account was inaccessible after his controversial tweet, screenshots of his post were doing the rounds on the social media website.
Like Kalburgi, Bhagwan, a retired professor from the Mysore University, was also trenchant in his criticism of Hindutva groups such as the Bajrang Dal. He recently courted controversy when he invited VHP leader and pontiff Vishveshwara Thirtha Swami to a public debate on Hindu scriptures.
A renowned Kannada scholar and a former Hampi University vice-chancellor, Kalburgi was shot dead by an unidentified assailant at his residence on Sunday. He was rushed to a civil hospital where doctors declared him dead.
A murder case has been registered and a special police team has been formed to hunt the suspect.