SENIOR journalist, editor of an independent progressive weekly Gauri Lankesh was killed at her house in Bangalore, by unidentified gunmen. She was a vocal critic of the RSS-BJP and has spoken regularly against rising intolerance, through her weekly and through activism. Ironically she was also one of the main persons in the campaign to arrest the killers of Dr M M Kalburgi.
Dr M M Kalburgi was murdered two years back. Now just a few days into this two year old murder, Lankesh’s assassination in the same way is even more shocking. The mode of killing remains the same like that of Dabholkar, Comrade Pansare and M M Kalburgi. She was shot at point blank range while entering the compound of her house after getting down from her car at around 8 pm on September 5. Three men in helmets and dark jackets riding two bikes approached her house when she entered.
The news sent shock waves in Karnataka among journalist circles, progressive and pro-people movements. The reaction has been swift. That night itself, several demonstrations took place. The main demonstration was held at Town Hall, Bangalore (the very venue of “Karnataka for Harmony” convention held earlier in the day) at 10 pm, organised by SFI, DYFI, JMS and other mass organisations. People poured in, spoke and raised slogans well into midnight. A demonstration organised by Dakshinayana addressed by Prof Ganesh Devy (who led the nation-wide campaign for arrest of Kalburgi killers) was organised at Dharawad. An impromptu demo also took place near Gauri Lankesh’s residence.
SFI gave a call for state-wide demonstrations on September 6. Many other demonstrations took place all over the state organised by journalists and other democratic progressive organisations. The state government’s failure to nab the killers of Kalburgi as being the main factor encouraging the dark forces out to silence voice of all dissenters was expressed angrily in most demonstrations. It was also noted that her murder was ‘celebrated’ in certain social media circles. Serious anguish has been expressed and demand for arrest of persons making such posts have been made. Slogans such as “I am Gauri, Shoot Me”, “Gauri Lives Through Us” “Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburi, Gauri..How many more sacrifices You need ?” - were heard in the demonstrations.
Gauri Lankesh, eldest daughter of famed writer and journalist P Lankesh did her MS (Communications) from Bangalore University and worked in many English journals starting with Sunday Weekly. She returned to Bangalore to edit/publish “Lankesh Weekly” after her legendary father died. She continued the fearless independent journalism heralded by “Lankesh Weekly”, a landmark in Kannada journalism upholding secular democratic values. She was also an activist with Komu Souharda Vedike (Communal Harmony Platform) and espoused many social, pro-people causes. She was against Hindutva and all forms of obscurantism. Many of the ‘victims’ of her exposes have tormented her off-line/on-line and on-court/off-court. She had over 40 “defamation” cases filed by members/leaders of virtually all Sangh Parivar outfits including couple of BJP MPs. It is said that latest edition of her weekly was to contain articles exposing BJP leader Yediyurappa and notorious RSS leader Kalldka Prabhakar Bhat.
The state government has announced an SIT to probe the murder of Gauri Lankesh under the leadership of a DGP. But people are very sceptical of the outcome given the past track record of Kalburgi murder after 2 years and also no lead other than CCTV footages in the house and vicinity. Indrajit, brother of Gauri, as also BJP have demanded a CBI enquiry.
In her shocking murder, journalist fraternity and progressive, pro-people movements have lost a champion.