PEN International joins PEN Delhi in demanding that authorities conduct a thorough and expeditious investigation into the murder of 78 year old Indian scholar and writer Dr. Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi on August 30th, and identify and bring to justice his killers as well as anyone who may have been behind them.
Kalburgi, a noted epigraphist and former Vice Chancellor of the Hampi University in Karnataka, who had won the Sahitya Akademi Award, was shot at close range by two men who arrived at his residence on Sunday morning.
Kalburgi had, through his writings and his speeches, upset groups within the Lingayat community as well as Right Wing Hindutva groups.
Kalburgi is the third Indian rationalist to be killed in the last three years, the previous cases being those of Dr. Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare.
In the cases of the murders of Dabholkar on August 20, 2013 and Pansare on February 16, 2014, investigations into who killed them are still ongoing. In each of these cases, the rationalists had been campaigning against religious orthodoxy and had received threats from people who felt questioned by their work. On social media, threats have been made to other rationalists, indicating that some groups are targeting such figures one by one. This is similar to what has been going on in Bangladesh. The PEN Delhi Centre calls upon the central and state governments to immediately institute a probe to identify the causes and patterns and prosecute the perpetrators as well as provide protection to others who may be at risk.
Read PEN's recently launched report: Imposing Silence: The Use of India’s Laws to Suppress Free Speech