Two prominent Kannada writers have retracted their allegation that Hindu outfit Sri Rama Sene was involved in the killing of rationalist MM Kalburgi, apparently after the right-wing organisation threatened to retaliate against them.
Last month, Kalburgi was shot dead at his residence in Karnataka’s Dharwad district by unidentified gunmen, the latest in a series of attacks on rationalists in the country.
On September 14, two Kannada writers Chennaveera Kanavi and Giraddi Govindaraja had joined 136 other writers and intellectuals in demanding a probe into the alleged role of the Sene in the killing of Kalburgi.
A few days later, Manjunath Bavi, the Raichur district president of the Hindutva organisation, threatened to demolish the houses of Kanavi and Govindaraja for tarnishing the reputation of the Sene.
Bavi was arrested hours after he aired his threat and the writers have been under police protection since.
“Govindaraja and I had signed a memorandum that was submitted to the Dharwad district administration regarding the assassination of Prof Kalburgi. It was a very lengthy memorandum and we didn’t read it properly. So we didn’t know that the Sri Rama Sene was named. It was our mistake,” Kanavi told HT on Monday.
Even as other activists and intellectuals criticised the two writers for buckling under pressure, Govindaraja insisted that they “have not withdrawn our statement out of fear”.
“We just wanted to clarify that it was wrong to name the organisation without proof,” he added.
Sri Rama Sene chief Pramod Muthalik later described the threat as an “emotional outburst” from a “Hindu whose sentiments had been hurt”.
Himself an accused in the January, 2009 Mangalore pub attack case and several other communal riots, Muthalik told HT that his organisation did not believe in violence.
“We are glad that they (Kanavi and Govindaraja) have withdrawn their offensive statements. We are dropping their names from a (criminal) defamation suit that we are filing against those who accused Sri Rama Sene of killing (Prof) Kalburgi,” Muthalik said.