Journalists, activists demand justice for Gauri Lankesh
A day after the cold-blooded murder of veteran journalist Gauri Lankesh by three unidentified assailants at the entrance of her home in Bengaluru on September 5, journalists, authors and activists gathered at the Press Club of India in New Delhi to protest against the incident and demand justice for the slain journalist. It was organised by the Press Club of India (PCI), the Press Association and Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC) and was attended by known faces from the media industry like Barkha Dutt, former editor of Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and several others. People taking part in the protest held placards with hard-hitting messages: ‘India against Hatred,’ ‘I am Gauri,’ ‘Bullets are their only answers to ideas. Who is next?’ and ‘You can’t silence someone with bullets’. Similar protests were held across the country and hundreds of people came together to protest against the attack.
The slain journalist edited Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada weekly started by her father P. Lankesh, and ran her own weekly called Gauri Lankesh Patrike. She was an avid critic of Hindutva politics and the BJP government at the Centre. Her murder is being dubbed by activists, journalists and academicians as an attempt to clamp down on those who oppose the politics of majoritarianism and speak against the government.
While expressing concern over the increasing number of murders and attacks on media persons in the last couple of years, EPW’s former editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta said, “We are seeing the space for free-thinking shrinking. They want to silence the people who want to speak truth to power. We cannot remain silent, because that is what they want.”
Paying her tribute to the fearless journalist, Barkha Dutt said, “Today if we remain silent, I think we are doing a disservice to our profession. I think in some way we have failed previously in not standing as one. I would say after this assassination that we should not ignore anything. We should not ignore threats, abuse, intimidation. We must report them to the police and stand up with each other and for each other. Let us stand as one. Silence is complicity.”
Former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member and Swaraj Abhiyan’s chief Yogendra Yadav said, “Gauri was not a journalist but an ideology and ideologies cannot be killed by anyone. They are killed by other ideologies and now we must find which one killed her.”
“It’s very easy in India to sentimentalise issues involving women. The incident needs to be looked at objectively and as journalists, we need to unite and stand together,” said veteran TV journalist Mrinal Pande.
Meanwhile, a special investigation team (SIT) has been formed to probe the attack. The police has offered a reward of Rs 10 lakh for any clues leading to the attackers. Footage from CCTV cameras installed by the journalist showed a man in a dark jacket and helmet shoot her at point blank range.