The meeting in Bengaluru’s Gandhi Bhavan was a strange one – two women and a man who may never have met were it not for the murders of their immediate family members who were all rationalists.
At a meeting of like-minded people in the city on Tuesday, Govind Pansare’ daughter-in-law Megha Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar’s daughter Mukta, and MM Kalburgi’s son Shrivijaya, spoke about their murdered family members.
Later in the day, they met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and urged him to ensure that justice was done. The chief minister reportedly ensured them that no stone would be left unturned. The heads of several progressive Lingayat Mutts joined them. Kalburgi is also a Lingayat.
While Megha and Mukta spoke of the disappointing “non-investigation” of cases, Shrivijaya merely said that he would appeal to the government and the police to carry out the investigation speedily.
Kannada writer and scholar MM Kalburgi was murdered on August 30. Two men on motorcycles rode up to his house and shot him dead when he opened the door of his house in Dharwad city.
Earlier this year, Communist Party of India leader and author Govind Pansare was killed in February 2015. He was the author of popular book “Who was Shivaji?”, originally written in Marathi and translated into eight languages.
Narendra Dabholkar was murdered in broad daylight in August 2013 in Kolhapur, and the Pune police even went to the extent of ‘contacting his soul’ in order to further the investigation.
Mukta, who appeared reluctant to be photographed, said that it she felt that if the “investigation, or rather non-investigation of the murders of rationalists (Dabholkar and Pansare) had been successful, possibly Kalburgi would not have been murdered”.
She spoke of the way each police department shunted the investigation on to another department, with none of them coming up with any leads. She also said that no government – neither the Congress-NCP nor the BJP – in the two years that her father had died, had done anything to ensure that justice was served.
“We need to take this to the roads. We need to do this, or else nothing will happen. We should not forget, nor should we allow others to forget as time goes by, because this is for everyone’s freedom of speech,” Mukta said.
Megha said that Pansare was targeted several times in the past, and that with Kalburgi’s murder, the issue needed to be made a national one.
Kannada writer and recipient of the state’ highest literary honour Pampa Prashasti, Chandrashekar Patil said that he had three demands namely: arrest of the accused, re-open the case of Linganna Satyampet and lastly, passing the anti-superstition bill.
He said that the reluctance of the state government in passing the bill made one wonder. “It makes us wonder if Siddaramaiah is not following soft Hindutva. He is from a socialist background, he was our comrade and has a scientific temper, but…”
Mukta later told the media that rather than connections, there were similarities between the three murders.
Speaking to the media later Shrivijaya refused to speculate on the possible reasons for his father’s murder. He said that the family did not know who killed him, and that his family had cooperated with the authorities and provided them with the information that they sought.
But later, when asked if meeting with Megha and Mukta did not indicate suspicion that there were similarities, Shrivijaya said: “We want to speak with each other and discuss (what happened with each murder). That’s why we are meeting.”
On whether he feared that his father’s investigation too would go nowhere, as Shrivijaya said: “It’s been just 15 days. It’s too early to tell, but already each day feels like a decade.