These three men may not have been hacked. But they were shot dead pointblank. What, then, separates these murders from the horrific killing of Bangladeshi bloggers over the last year?
Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi were murdered for their thoughts. Murdered for believing in rationalism and criticising the excesses and blindnesses of Hindu society. In each case, their murderers are suspected to be from Hindu right wing groups. But the police is still hunting for suspects.
At 8:40am 30 August morning, the doorbell rang at Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi's residence. His wife opened the door to two men who asked for her husband, one who had walked up to the door, and another who was waiting on his motorcycle. When Kalburgi appeared, the assailant at the door shot him at close range in his head and chest.
Former Vice Chancellor of the Kannada University in Hampi, Kalburgi was a noted Kannada epigraphist and a renowned scholar of the Vachana literature. He won the Sahitya Akademi award in 2006 for his research titled Marga 4.
Back in 2013, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was out on his usual morning walk in Pune when he was shot dead. Social activist Govind Pansare faced the same fate in Kolkapur earlier this year, in February. Pansare's wife Uma Pansare was also attacked, but she survived.
These killings are troublingly similar to the the hacked Bangladeshi bloggers, whose deaths, although far more gruesome, stem out of the same collective insecurity - that the rationalist, liberal, atheist voice will make its mark.
Soon after Kalburgi's death, the Bajrang Dal co-convener in Bantwal issued an open threat to another Kannada scholar, KS Bhagwan. The account was deleted soon after.