Kannada writer too quits literary body in protest

Bengaluru: Noted Kannada writer and scholar Aravind Malagatti resigned on Sunday from the governing council of Sahitya Akademi, protesting its silence over the recent killing of Kannada rationalist and thinker M.M. Kalburgi.

“I have sent a letter to the Akademi chairman today (Sunday) resigning as a member of the governing council, as I am disturbed over the continued silence of our institution on Kalburgi’s murder,” Malagatti told local news channels here.

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The 77-year-old Kalburgi was shot dead on August 30 by two unidentified assailants at his residence in Dharwad, about 430km from here in the state’s northern region.

No headway has been made despite the Karnataka government announcing a Rs.5 lakh reward on clues leading to the arrest of the killers.

Malagatti is the latest writer to resign from the Akademi post two days after the city-based eminent writer Shashi Deshpande quit a similar post in the 20-member council of the country’s highest literary body.

Expressing anguish over the killing of Kalburgi and rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare in Maharashtra in the recent past, Malaghatti said the Akademi should have spoken out and condemned the growing intolerance in sections of society.

“These gruesome incidents are an attack on our fundamental rights like freedom of expression, equality and liberty,” he contended.

Dabholkar was killed in Pune on August 2013, while Pansare was shot at in a Kolhapur on February 16 and succumbed to bullet injuries on February 21 in a Mumbai hospital.

Maharashtra Police are yet to nab their killers though some suspects have been taken into custody for interrogation and investigation.

Six young Kannada writers on October 3 returned state literary awards in protest over delay in the inquiry of Kalburgi’s killing.

Akademi chairman Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari meanwhile said the institution was committed to freedom of expression and secular values of the country.

“We uphold our fundamental rights and values but condemn at the same time attack on or murder of any writer or artist anywhere in the country,” Tiwari said in a statement.