Rationalist and former vice-chancellor of Hampi University Professor MM Kalburgi was shot dead by unidentified assailants on August 30, 2015.(HT File Photo)
Rationalist and former vice-chancellor of Hampi University Professor MM Kalburgi was shot dead by unidentified assailants on August 30, 2015.(HT File Photo)

Gauri Lankesh’s death brings focus back on Kalburgi, Pansare, Dabholkar murders

Rationalist MM Kalburgi was also killed in a similar manner like Gauri Lankesh two years ago in Karnataka’s Dharwad city.
By Vikram Gopal and Yogesh Joshi | Hindustan Times, Bengaluru/Pune
UPDATED ON SEP 07, 2017 10:44 AM IST

The murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru on Tuesday night has brought the spotlight back on three other high-profile killings, investigations into which have made little headway.

Narendra Dabholkar of Maharashtra and MM Kalburgi from Karnataka were both rationalists while Govind Pansare, who lived in Kolhapur, was a vocal critic of the Hindutva agenda. Like Lankesh, they had roiled many with their strong views and were silenced by assassins’ bullets.

Dabholkar was shot dead near his home in Shaniwar Peth in 2013, Pansare died of wounds after being shot in 2015, and Kalburgi was killed by a hail of bullets in Dharwad in 2015.

Though the three murders made headlines and triggered nationwide outrage, little progress has been made in bringing the culprits to book. No arrests have been made so far in connection with Kalburgi’s killing despite the case being investigated by the criminal investigation department (CID) of the Karnataka police.

Dabholkar’s murder is being investigated by the CBI and a member of the secretive Hindu outfit Sanathan Sanstha, headquartered in Goa, has been arrested. One person was arrested in connection with Pansare’s murder but the suspect is currently out on bail. Two others suspected to be involved in both the murders are still absconding, prompting the Bombay high court to urge the investigating agencies to use modern methods to track them down.

Narendra Dabholkar:
Narendra Dabholkar:

“These are not acts committed by a person or two,” a bench of the court observed. “The reports indicate that this is a completely organised set up,” the judges said.

Police suspect the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare were linked and were carried out by the Sanathan Sanstha. Dabholkar campaigned tirelessly against superstitious practices while Pansare took on Hindu right-wing groups during his lifetime. Police suspect the duo had earned the wrath of the Sanathan Sanstha and were therefore killed.

Two years after Kalburgi’s killing, Karnataka police claim they are on the verge of a breakthrough in the case. They have, however, refused to explain their inability to arrest anyone till date.

Last year, the Karnataka home minister G Parameshwara said that there was evidence to suggest that the rationalist writer’s killing too was linked to the murders of Dabholkar and Pansare. It will take time to establish the truth though, since investigations into all three cases are progressing at a snail’s pace.

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