Oriya Poet invokes Sahitya Akademi Constitution in his Letter to Akademi

The President / Vice President of Sahitya Akademi
Members of Executive Board of Sahitya Akademi
Secretary, Sahitya Akademi

1. Professor Malleshappa Madivalappa Kalburgi, well-known scholar-writer and a recipient of Sahitya Akademi award in 2006, was shot dead in the morning of 30 August 2015 at his residence in Dharwad district of Karnataka.

2. In 1989, Professor Kalburgi was drawn into an unmerited controversy about two articles in his book Marga 1, written on the basis of his research and reliance on historical records. In June 2014, addressing a seminar on the Anti-superstition Bill in Bangalore, Kalburgi cited U. R. Ananthamurthy's 1996 book Bethale Puje Yake Kudadu ("Why nude-worship is wrong") in which the writer narrated his childhood experience of urinating on idols as an experiment to see whether there would be divine retribution. This led to irrational protests from the
right-wing groups.

3. From the various reports, it appears that Professor Kalburgi was murdered because he was a rationalist –a scholar who expressed his views based on research and conviction.

4. It is reported that he faced death threats in the past, but he did not receive adequate protection from state authorities.

5. This tragic murder has created nationwide reaction.

6. Some writers have resigned from various bodies of the Akademi and some others have returned the Sahitya Akademi Award. These are expressions of symbolic protest. I feel that much more must be done.

7. Sahitya Akademi, being the National Academy of Letters, must take a stand so that writers don't face such a fate just for expressions of their views.

8. Sahitya Akademi has many schemes, projects and programmes. That's fine. But one of its prime duties is to stand by writers and scholars expressing their thoughts.

9. I therefore urge forcefully that, as per clause xii of Article 3 (b) of Constitution of the Sahitya Akademi which empowers the Akademi "to do all other acts and things whether incidental to powers aforesaid or not as may be required in order to further its objects", an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Board of Sahitya Akademi must be convened at short notice.

10. If the Secretary /President are hesitant to convene such a meeting due to some compulsions, the Members of Executive Board of Sahitya Akademi should requisition a meeting.

Yours faithfully,
Rajendra Kishore Panda
October 12, 2015