Bengaluru: With no breakthrough in the murder of rationalist M M Kalburgi, which has triggered a national outrage, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said that the government was taking all steps to track down and arrest his killers.
There is a perception among people that Kalburgi was killed because of his frank and blunt views against superstition, Siddaramaiah said as he paid homage to the rationalist and other prominent personalities, who died recently, on the opening day of the legislature winter session.
Kalburgi's killing has acted as a trigger for many writers, artists and others to return their awards in recent weeks, particularly of Sahitya Akademi, in protest against what they call "rising intolerance" in the country.
The Kannada writer was gunned down by two men at his residence at Dharwad in north Karnataka on August 30, with no clue till now about the killers.
The government is taking all steps to track down and arrest his killers, the Chief Minister said.
"He was always in the thick of controversies and conflicts with the right-wing organisations, due to his research findings," Siddaramaiah added.
One of the biggest controversies with which Kalburgi was associated was when in 1986-87, he had questioned the divine origin theory of Chenna Basavanna, one of the early propagators of the "Sharana" movement of the 12th century.
The state's majority Lingayat community had held protests against Kalburgi, led by senior writer Vrushabhendra Swamy, who incidentally was also Kalburgi's teacher in a university.
"Though Kalburgi gave controversial statements, he had no enemies," Siddaramaiah said.
Paying homage to Kalburgi, Leader of the Opposition BJP Jagadish Shettar said though nearly three months have passed since the murder no clues have yet been found, and urged the government to immediately form a new team to arrest the killers.
He alleged that there was a hidden agenda in writers returning their literary awards, which they did not do during the Congress rule in various states.
"The writers are returning their literary awards. That's not good. These very writers did not return their awards during NCP-Congress rule in Maharashtra when Narendra Dabholkar was killed. Why are they returning the awards now? It looks like there is a hidden agenda," Shettar said.
He requested the writers not to return the awards.
JDS Member Y S V Datta said instead of requesting the writers to stop returning their awards, there should be an understanding of why they are doing so, and alleged that there was increasing intolerance in India.