Bangalore, Aug. 30: An outspoken rationalist and Kannada scholar who had denounced idol worship as a "meaningless ritual" was shot dead today at his home in the central Karnataka city of Dharwad.
Police said M.M. Kalburgi, 77, was shot by a burly assailant who fled with an accomplice waiting on a motorbike.
Dharwad police commissioner Ravindra Prasad said the killer shot Kalburgi between the eyes and in the chest. "We are not sure of the motive yet. But we have some leads," he said, adding that Kalburgi's family had ruled out any property dispute.
The commissioner said Kalburgi's wife had opened the door to the burly man who asked for her husband and fired from a handgun as soon as he appeared.
In August 2013, bike-borne assassins had shot dead Narendra Dabholkar, another well-known rationalist, not far from his Pune home.
At a seminar in June 2014, Kalburgi, a former VC of Hampi Kannada University, had denounced idol worship as a "meaningless ritual", angering Sangh parivar elements. But Prasad said nothing more was known about the attackers or if someone had given them the assignment.
At the seminar, Kalburgi had also said "one can even urinate on idols", while quoting from author and academic U.R. Ananthamurthy's work. In the work, the writer had narrated how he had urinated on an idol to rid himself of the fear induced by his traditional upbringing.
The comments led to a court petition that accused Kalburgi of blasphemy.