03/09/2015 8:26 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

MM Kalburgi Murder: Police Release Sketches Of Suspected Killers


DHARWAD (Karnataka) — Police have released sketches of the suspected killers of leading rationalist MM Kalburgi, shot on August 30 in execution style at his Karnataka home. State CID has begun investigations in the murder of Kalburgi, an academic and writer who had spoken out against idol worship and been targeted by hardline Hindu groups.

"Yes, we have released sketches of two suspects who killed Kalburgi ... it is uploaded in our website for everyone to see," Hubballi-Dharwad Police Commissioner Pandurang H Rane told PTI.

Rane said city police had started work on sketches of the suspects, based on their physical description given by witnesses who were questioned. "Before handing over the case to CID, we were working on sketches of the suspects and today we released them on our website," Rane added.

Asked if the suspects were from outside Karnataka, Rane evaded a direct reply, saying he had assumed charge only yesterday. "Moreover the case is being handled by CID and hence I cannot reply to the query."

CID began its probe and is looking at whether there was a "larger conspiracy" to eliminate the rationalist and progressive thinker. The Karnataka government had decided to hand over the case to CBI, but CID will investigate the incident till it is taken over by the central agency.

Rane said Superintendent of Police D C Rajappa, who is leading a CID team, had visited Kalburgi's house yesterday. CID investigators interacted with Kalburgi's family members for two hours and questioned the neighbours, according to reports.

Officials took photographs and videographed the spots where the incident took place. All family members of Kalburgi, including his wife, daughters and son, were present. They were asked to narrate in detail the incident that occurred on Sunday morning.

When contacted, Rajappa declined to throw much light on the probe, saying, "I am busy with investigation."

"Karnataka CID team and Maharashtra police are probing whether the killings of Kalburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare are part of a larger conspiracy to eliminate rationalist and progressive thinkers," Rane said.

Times of India reported that 17 CID officials, including police personnel from Kolhapur, Belgavi and Yallapur, were also part of the investigation.

"I said that I heard a firing sound and thought it was bursting of crackers or corporation staffers catching some stray pig. When I came out of the house, I saw a person aged between 20 and 25 years wielding something in his hand. He sped away on a bike followed by another bike. Later, I also heard the screaming of Kalburgi's daughter.Then I realized somebody had killed Kalburgi," TOI quoted B N Harkmani, a retired PWD executive engineer and neighbour of Kalburgi, as saying.

Both Maharashtra police and Karnataka CID team are trying to see if there is any link between Kalburgi's murder and the killings of Dabholkar and Pansare, Rane said.

"Karnataka CID team and Maharashtra police are probing whether the killings of Kalburgi, Dabholkar and Pansare are part of a larger conspiracy to eliminate rationalist and progressive thinkers," Rane said.

Congress expressed concern over the murder and alleged that the role of Bajrang Dal, a sister wing of the RSS, becomes "justifiably suspect".

"Bajrang Dal activist Bhuvith Shetty sent out a tweet soon after Kalburgi's murder threatening that writer K S Bhagwan was the 'next' target," Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said in a statement.

He alleged that the RSS has always indulged in violent measures to eliminate those who have opposed their views.

Noting that the facts emerging out of police investigation into the murder point towards a "larger conspiracy aimed at eliminating rationalists", he said, going by reports, there is a "striking similarity" in the murders of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Kalburgi.

"All of them were active rationalists; they wrote and spoke openly against irrational superstition and tried to promote scientific temper, spirit of inquiry and reform."

"Though these are officially the national ethos of modern India and enshrined as Fundamental Duties of citizens in Indian Constitution, they were brutally murdered for practicing and promoting them," Surjewala said.

Besides, he insisted that the wave of intolerance against rationalist positions is not limited to violent groups of any single region. "The enemies of reason are afraid of word, pen and keyboard. They try to stop the flow of free thought by guns."

Congress strongly condemned any act by extremist organisations aimed at violently suppressing independent voices and would oppose with all its might any effort to obstruct free speech in democratic India, he added. (With inputs from PTI)

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