Gauri Lankesh, 55, senior Kannada journalist, activist and social critic was shot dead outside her residence in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Bengaluru on Tuesday night.
The news of her coldblooded murder could be shared only with utmost pain and is strongly condemned. Gauri was a gutsy journalist who dedicated her life standing up for secular and liberal values, free speech and for fighting communal politics. She entered the field of independent journalism deciding to carry on the work of her father, poet, writer and journalist P Lankesh. Gauri who strongly criticised Hindutwa politics right from the start, continued her stance all her life. During the present times, when the hardcore Hindutwa right wing is at the helm of political power and intolerance has been consuming the nation as a whole, she held on to her secular stance more strongly. Naturally it earned her a lot of enemies. It might probably be those intolerant foes who gunned her down.
The Karnataka police haven’t so far been able to hunt down the culprits. No clues have been received as well regarding the murderers. It naturally cast suspicions on the Sangh Parivar outfits. They could however, defend themselves saying that it might be mere campaigns by the political opponents. But it’s a reality that Sangh Parivar hated Gauri to the core. The hateful comments posted on social media by the Sangh supporters after the journo was killed clearly proves the extent of their hateful mindset. Even the journalists who lean towards the Sangh Parivar used extremely loathsome language to humiliate Gauri. They weren’t hesitant to express their happiness by posting comments on Facebook and Twitter. If they react in such an overt way towards her murder, then the amount of poisonous sentiments they carry inside themselves could be easily comprehended. If this is the ideology of a regime that drives the nation, we can’t help but be ashamed for the present state of our country.
Eliminating those who follow a different ideology has been a practice of the Hindutwa politics for long. They kick-started the exercise by assassinating Mahatma Gandhi. It’s the same bullets which killed Gandhiji that claimed the life of Gauri. She suffered the same fate as those such as Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and M M Kalburgi who took a firm stand against Hindutwa politics. After Narendra Modi took charge, a political culture which is an equal mixture of communal fanaticism and ecstasy of power, is swiftly moving ahead crushing all the virtues of the nation. Gauri Lankesh is the latest martyr of those regressive times.
Her murder should also be considered in the backdrop of the Karnataka assembly election that is due next year. Emerging victorious in the elections by building tension and creating communal divides in the society is a strategy the BJP has been successfully testing in the country. The decision to induct Anant Kumar Hegde, an MP from Karnataka who is infamous for his campaigns loaded with communal hatred, into the cabinet came only a few days before. Modi has, through inducting Hegde into the cabinet, honoured the hate campaigns. We couldn’t help but say that it might be this mentality that led to murder of Gauri Lankesh.
The journo-activist is not someone having a strong group of supporters or a political backing. Neither was she financial sound. Gauri was only a journalist who ran a weekly Kannada tabloid in a rather small set up. The reality that intolerance intensifies to such levels that it couldn’t tolerate even such an individual nor allow her to live, sends a precarious message. Gauri Lankesh wasn’t merely an individual. Her ideas and opinions are what makes her significant. It was writer and thinker M N Vijayan, also known as Vijayan Mash, who remarked that even if a student who ask questions is expelled from the class, the question would still remain. Even if Gauri Lankesh is gunned down, her words of depth would surely continue to blaze the path of our lives.