Shreevijay Kalburgi, the son of murdered rationalist, writer and academic M M Kalburgi, speaking to The Indian Express, said that “even after two months of my father being murdered, there has not been a single phone call from the Sahitya Akademi or any expression of regret”.
He said that he was glad to know that the Akademi had finally broken its silence. “Finally, two months after his killing, the highest literary forum in India had opened its mouth and issued a statement. Some local writers have been there for us and when we met the Chief Minister on September 6, Girish Karnad and Prof Chandrashekhar Patil stood by us. But nothing from Delhi,” Shreevijay said.
Asked about the writers’ protests and the spate of returning of awards over Kalburgi’s murder and lack of concern for a writer’s freedom, Shreevijay said: “It is now a movement and not about my father’s death… It is about the freedom of expression and the need to keep it alive. It should not happen to any other writer. We are happy that rationalists and writers are speaking up. It’s a democratic country and we hope it will take shape and carry on, to protect our rights.”
Talking about the investigation, Shreevijay expressed anxiousness, saying: “We are clueless about the investigations as we are not being made aware of any developments if there are any. Its being kept completely confidential and we are slowly losing patience… We can’t really do anything at this stage and we hope the government moves seriously on this.”
On October 7, they were “sounded out” by a representative of the Chitradurga-based Sringeri Mutt that they wanted to award late Prof M M Kalburgi. “We wrote to them on October 9, detailing why we did not want to take the award. Firstly, we are still in shock and in no mood to celebrate. And we feel the award should be given to a writer who is living and will carry on good work and feel encouraged. My father has gone. Even if we accept the award, it would mean just keeping it inside.”
Shreevijay is a post-graduate in English and in retail business. However, he says “now, looking at how things are, yes, maybe I will write”.
Prof M M Kalburgi was shot dead by two unidentified men, on August 30, at his Dharwad residence. A Sahitya Akademi awardee, he was once the V-C of the Kannada University in Hampi and a renowned Kannada scholar, historian-commentator and rationalist. His death, occurring in a similar fashion as that of two other rationalists — Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare in 2013 and in 2015, respectively — have triggered an unprecedented sequence of events, with several Indian voices returning awards to the Sahitya Akademi.