Protests after MM Kalburgi, known for his rationalist views, was murdered on Sunday
Hundreds of people poured into a college in Karnataka today to pay tribute to renowned scholar MM Kalburgi, who was shot dead on the doorstep of his home on Sunday morning.
Dr Kalburgi, the former vice chancellor of Hampi University, answered the doorbell at his home in Dharwad at around 8.40 am when he was shot in the forehead and chest. The attackers had come on a bike, said Dharwad police chief Ravindra Prasad. They are yet to be caught or identified.
A six-member Special Investigation Team of the police will investigate the murder, which has sent shockwaves through the state.
Neighbours say the 77-year-old, a well-known left ideologue and rationalist, had received many threats to his life, but he had never taken them seriously. He had several run-ins with Hindu rightwing groups who opposed his writings and speeches and called them "anti-Hindu."
Dr Kalburgi, a Sahitya Academy award winning writer, academician and researcher, often landed in controversy for his remarks on religious and social issues.
"Whatever be his opinion, but for that reason if someone has killed him then this totally wrong. I hope that is not the case here, the police have to investigate that. But if it is an issue of Hindutva then it is very serious and disappointing," said Karnataka minister Dinesh Gundurao.
In the last couple of years, there have been at least three such attacks.
In August 2013, anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune while he was out for a morning walk.
In February this year, social activist and veteran CPI leader Govind Pansare -- who was holding agitations against toll tax among other issues -- was shot dead in similar circumstances in Kolhapur.
None of the cases has been solved.
"This is a very unfortunate incident. We hope this doesn't develop into a part of Kannada culture. Everyone has the right to express his opinion... If this grows in Karnataka, we are in trouble," said actor and director Girish Karnad.