As comparisons of Kannada writer M M Kalburgi’s murder are increasingly being made with that of rationa list Narendra Dabholkar, a tweet that has now been deleted and the tweeter are taking Twitter by storm.
Some hours after scholar, rationalist and writer M M Kalburgi was shot dead by unknown assailants in Dharwad in Karnataka, a Bajrang Dal member in Dakshina Kannada district tweeted that after UR Ananthamurthy and Kalburgi, another scholar “was next”, but deleted it soon as he was “sorry”.
Bhuvith Shetty, Bantwal taluk convenor of the Bajrang Dal in Dakshina Kannada district had tweeted:
“Then it was UR Ananthamoorty and now its MM Kalburgi. Mock Hinduism and die a dogs death. And dear KS Bhagwan you are next.”
However, after it began to be noticed, he deleted the tweet. But images are circulating on Twitter.
Writers M M Kalburgi and U R Ananthamurthy had attracted the ire of Hindutva groups in June 2014, who even filedcases against them for “offending religious sentiments”. During a public programme, Kalburgi had referred to an anecdote in Ananthamurthy’s childhood, which the latter had written about in an essay. In the essay, Ananthamurthy recounted how he had, as a child, urinated on a religious idol in a bid to test his fears because he had been told that it would bring bad luck.
The person 24-year-old Shetty referred to in his tweet, K S Bhagwan, is a Mysuru-based scholar who had challenged the Pejavar seer to an open debate on the Ramayana. In February and April, Bhagwan had been in the news for saying that he wanted to burn a copy of the Ramayana as it was “an extremely unholy, insulting and dangerous book”.
Such tweets are an indication of the hostility that such groups have towards people of certain political persuasions.
Speaking to The News Minute, Shetty said that he “confessed” that he had tweeted the above remark, but deleted it soon after as it began to be noticed. “It was spontaneous. It happened. But my intention was not to kill… I couldn’t express what I wanted to say,” he told The News Minute.
Asked what it was that he could not express, Shetty said that he was “glad” when Ananthamurthy had died because “the way he behaved… all I want to say is that don’t ridicule our religion. If you want to be secular, be secular. Don’t tell us that our religion is like this or like that. If what I said has hurt anybody, then I am ready to apologise.”
Shetty’s Twitter profile says that he has been in jail. Asked about it, he said that last year around Eid time, he and others had been involved in “protection of cattle because there was much trafficking going on”, and things went bad and cases of attempt to murder were filed on all of them.
Asked why he was so offended by the views of people Kalburgi, Ananthamurthy or Bhagwan, the BCom graduate said that Bhagwan had called Krishna a “womanizer”. “He is just making a mockery of religion”, Shetty said, adding that Bhagwan did not know what he was talking about and that he should “keep quiet”.
“I am keeping my beliefs, which is my private property at home. He should also keep his beliefs in his house,” he said. “I am not anti-Muslim,” Shetty said, adding that he had many Muslim friends who were asking him to join them abroad for work. “I am against anti-Hindus.”
President of the Federation of Indian Rationalists Associations Narendra Nayak told The News Minute that he suspected Kalburgi’s death had to do with his views expressed last in connection with Ananthamurthy. “I do not agree with Ananthamurthy’s views, but I support his right to say it. I strongly condemn Kalaburgi’s death. He was a rationalist and free thinker and I think his death had to do with what happened in 2014.”
Nayak said that Kalburgi shared rationalist views, but was not formally a member of the federation.
At the time of writing, Shetty had deactivated both his Twitter accounts @Garudapurana and @Garudarekhe.
Twitter user Nilim Dutta had tweeted a link to his complaint with the government of Karnataka, along with an image of Shetty claiming that he had allegedly chopped off the hand of a Muslim for smuggling cows in Kalladka. The complaint could not be independently verified.
By evening Dakshina Kannada SP Sharanappa told The News Minute that the Bantwal Town police are in the process of booking a case against Shetty under Sections 153 (spreading enmity between communities) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.