Cops hunt for killers of Kannada rationalist scholar

Dharwad (Karnataka), Aug 31 (IANS) Working on certain leads, police have stepped up their hunt for the killers of renowned Kannada scholar-turned-rationalist M.M. Kalburgi, a senior official said on Monday.

“We are looking for an early breakthrough as our probe team is working on leads and clues from the crime scene with the help of CCTV footage obtained from the vicinity,” Dharwad Police Commissioner Ravindra Prasad told IANS.

Dharwad is located about 430 km north of Bengaluru.

A six-member special team was set up under deputy commissioner of police A.S. Ghori to investigate the fatal shooting of 77-year-old Kalburgi around 9 a.m. on Sunday.

“Footage from a closed circuit television (CCTV) of a bank branch in the residential area is being scrutinised, in which two youths are seen moving on a motorbike in a suspicious way in Kalburgi’s residential area before and after the crime,” Prasad said.

The murderous attack on the former vice chancellor of Hampi University in Ballari, about 330 km from Bengaluru, shocked the people, sparking protests across Karnataka and condemnation from fellow Kannada litterateurs, artistes and film personalities.

Even as Kalburgi was controversial for his independent views on social and religious matters, he was a noted epigraphist and well-known writer of old Kannada literature.

In view of the threat perception from fringe elements and right-wing Hindu activists over his derogatory remarks and profane views on religious beliefs and idol worship, police had provided security to him for the last four-five years.

“His security cover was withdrawn last year on Kalburgi’s insistence, as he wanted to be accessible to everyone as a public figure in literary and social milieu,” state Additional Director General of Police Alok Mohan told IANS.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people flocked the KCD College premises here to pay their last respects to Kalburgi, who would be laid to rest on Monday evening.

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