Vol. XLI No. 38 September 17, 2017

KARNATAKA: Thousands of ‘Gauri’s March in Defiance

EXACTLY a week after assassination of Gauri Lankesh, thousands of ‘Gauri’s marched in Bangalore in defiance. The colourful march with thousands shouting “I am Gauri” from Railway Station to Central College, and the resistance convention held, reflected the raging anger against the murder of public intellectuals to suppress dissenting voices and freedom of expression. It also reflected the defiance by a rainbow coalition of forces representing journalists, writers, artists, students, social activists, thinkers, social movements, and political parties. “I am Gauri, We are all Gauri, Gauri of Hope, Gauri of Confidence, Gauri of Commitment, Farmers Gauri, Workers Gauri, Peoples Gauri” thousands of people shouted in chorus at the beginning of the convention.

Thirty prominent persons representing the coalition of forces from across the country addressed the convention. Kannada writer Devanooru Mahadeva,  Sitaram Yechury,  Medha Patkar, Swami Agnivesh, Prashanth Buhushan, Kannada writer Chandrashekhar Patil, P Sainath, Teesta Setalvad, Jignesh Mewani, Linguist Prof Ganesh Devy,  Sagarika Ghosh, Siddharth Varadarajan,  writer/activist Neela K, Kannada actor Chetan, and seers of many progressive mutts spoke at the convention. It was chaired by prominent Gandhian and freedom fighter H S Doreswamy. The convention also expressed defiance by releasing the new issue of “Gauri Lankesh Patrike” weekly edited/published by slain Gauri Lankesh and declaring that the weekly will continue to be published.  This, indeed, defeated one of the major motives of killing of Gauri – stopping the publication of the weekly that was exposing Sangh Parivar and its fascistic offensive. The cover page of the weekly released had picture of Gauri with a statement “My voice will not be suppressed”.

Yechury setting the tone of the convention, accused the Sangh Parivar of encouraging a cult of violence that made the murders of four rationalists and writers possible. The cult of violence apart from killing of intellectuals, has resulted in mob lynching of dalits, Muslims, harassment of youth on various pretexts – all by private armies.  He said, Indians have fought and defeated obscurantist forces which promote hate, intolerance and bigotry. These forces will not succeed now, either, he declared.

A day after, writer Ramachandra Guha was sent a legal notice for naming Sangh Parivar as suspects for murder, there was a tone of defiance at the convention as many speakers named Sangh Parivar for being behind the killing of Gauri. “I will tell openly: The killers of Gauri are Hindutva organisations, the same ones that killed Gandhiji” declared Swami Agnivesh. Nidumamidi Swamiji  stated “Hindutva terrorists have killed Gauri. It is a political murder.”  “We all will repeat after Guha. Let them prepare 120-crore notices” thundered K Neela.

The resolution adopted at the convention included demands for nabbing of the culprits involved; probing the larger pattern behind targeting of rationalists and activists; and the need to form a united front against communal forces. A plan to organise similar protest/resistance conventions in Delhi and state capitals was announced. Protests of journalists at every memorial dedicated to Gandhiji on October 2, was also announced.