With Gauri Lankesh, Freedom Of Speech and Journalism Have Been Shot
Journalists killings test India's values

In a shocking incident, senior journalist Gauri Lankesh, a well-known critic of the right wing forces, was shot dead at her house in Bengaluru.

Gauri Lankesh was the editor of weekly Kannada tabloid magazine Lankesh Patrike, a columnist in newspapers, a panelist on TV channels besides being an activist. She is a household name for readers in Karnataka for her fearless and bold attitude. A staunch critic of the right wing and Hindutva, Lankesh’s work often presented strong opinions against the communal politics as well as the caste system.

Lankesh was critical of the Hindutva brigade and was last year convicted in a defamation case filed by MP Pralhad Joshi who had objected to a report against BJP leaders.

Lankesh’s brother Indrajit told India Today that the case should be handed over to CBI as she had several defamation cases against her.

Incidentally, Assembly election in Karnataka is due next year. The case is reminiscent of murder cases of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Kalburgi. Dabholkar was shot on August 20, 2013, in Pune, while Pansare was shot on February 16 in Kolhapur and died on February 20, 2015. Fingers had been raised on radical Hindu outfits.

Recalling the incident, one of the neighbors said to The Times of India –

“Usually, she would drive back home late night. At around 8 pm today, we heard gun shots and rushed out.

For a few minutes, we could not understand what had happened. Then we realized that Gauri had been shot at and saw her lying in a pool of blood near the door.”

Karnataka police chief R K Dutta said Lankesh had not voiced apprehension about any threat to her life during a couple of meetings he had with her.

Lankesh once told a journalist – “We can’t be so dead. It is human to express and react. What we feel impulsively is usually our most honest response.”

Here’s a video recorded sometime back where Gauri Lankesh a few minutes into the talk says “death threats have become a common factor” in the state.

The Twitter reactions about the incident included some well-known activists and journalists who expressed their condolences for Lankesh, saying –

Half of the media and journalism are called to be losing their voices under political and bureaucratic pressure. The ones which are left with some opinion and voice are being bottled up with attacks. Nothing could be sadder.

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