Upset over the delay in arrest of Kannada thinker MM Kalburgi’s killers even a month after he was gunned down, six Kannada writers returned their awards to Kannada Sahitya Parishat on Saturday.
“All the six Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation Aralu Sahitya Award winners have returned awards, disappointed over the delay in the arrest of the killers of Kalburgi,” Kannada Sahitya Parishat President Pundalik Halambi said.
Kalburgi was shot dead at point-blank range by two unidentified men at his residence on August 30. His murder had raised a storm over threat to free speech. Police are still clueless on the killers and their motive, even as they are probing the suspected role of right wing fringe elements.
CID is investigating the case which the government has announced would be taken over by CBI.
Veeranna Madiwalar, T Satish Javare Gowda, Sangamesh Menasinakai, Hanumanth Haligeri, Shridevi V Aloor and Chidanand Sali were conferred the awards on November 22, 2011, at a function where Kalburgi was honoured with the prestigious Nrupatunga Prashasti.
“It is a simple gesture to exert pressure on the state government to nab the culprits,” Javare Gowda had said before announcing their decision to return the awards.
As a mark of protest, the young writers returned their awards and demanded speedy arrest of people who killed the progressive writer, Halambi said.
“Initially, I refused to take back the awards saying it was disappointing that they were being returned to the parishat, which had given them away to encourage young writers,” he said.
Halambi said he told the writers that instead of returning the awards, it would be appropriate to first talk to the government and request them to expedite the investigation and arrest the killers, but they were not convinced. “Ultimately I had to agree to their request,” Halambi said.
The writers, who returned the awards, were accompanied by veteran Kannada writer Chandrashekhar Patil (Champa), who had earlier returned the state government’s Pampa Award as a protest against the killing of Kalburgi, his close associate.