Gauri Lankesh, Noted Journalist and Dissenter, Shot Dead in Bengaluru

A feisty, independent voice in Indian journalism has been stilled

Gauri Lankesh. Credit: Twitter

New Delhi: The well-known journalist and editor Gauri Lankesh, a household name for readers in Karnataka because of her sharp writing and bold views, was shot dead at her residence in Bengaluru late on September 5.

According to The Hindu, Lankesh was shot three times by unidentified men at close range at around 8 pm at the entrance of her house in Rajarajeshwari Nagar.

She was editor of the weekly  Lankesh Patrike –  a magazine that has been described as an “anti-establishment” publication – and had recently come under attack for her views against the communal politics of the Sangh parivar in Karnataka. The state, which is ruled by the Congress, goes to the polls later this year.

The noted Kannada writer K. Marulisidappa, who knew Lankesh from her childhood, told The Wire that the news of her murder was absolutely devastating. “She was taking a bold stand, a very bold stand against the Sangh parivar here,” he said. The fact that she had been killed makes it clear how dangerous the situation is now, he added. “The same people who killed Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi have now killed her,” he said, referring to the earlier murders of rationalists in Maharashtra and Karnataka who had also angered the Right with their writings and speeches.

In November 2016, Lankesh was held guilty of defamation for an article she ran in 2008, which Prahlad Joshi, a BJP MP from Dharwad, and Umesh Dushi, also of the BJP, had found objectionable. The article had alleged that the BJP MP was directly involved in corruption. Lankesh, who challenged her conviction and was subsequently released on bail, had at the time said that her publication had been targeted because of her politics.

A strong advocate of freedom of press, Lankesh had in June 2017 written an article for The Wire saying that legislators in Karnataka had no business to sit in judgment on journalists and that it was time they were stripped of their privileges.

“It is now becoming a method”, Ganesh Devy, the Dharwar-based scholar and activist, told The Wire. “The brazen way in which the killers came, it is just the same as what happened with Kalburgi and the others”. Devy said a protest march against her killing has been planned in the town for Wednesday morning.

The senior journalist Sugata Raju posted a screenshot of a recent WhatsApp conversation with Gauri Lankesh, who had ‘adopted’ JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar and Gujarat Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani:

In Delhi, a protest meeting has been called for 3 pm on September 6 at the Press Club of India.

Karnataka’s chief minister, Siddaramaiah, condemned Lankesh’s murder as “an assassination of democracy”.

The RSS too has condemned the murder:

Several journalists and activists took to Twitter to express their condolences as the news of her death came to light.

(With PTI inputs)

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  • Anjan Basu

    The BJP’s three years at the country’s helm have now seen an impressive tally of voices silenced, lives maimed, institutions travestied and the whole nation held at ransom. How much more blood will be let in the name of nationalism and patriotism no one can tell. The opposition lies in tatters, the Congress, even where it is in power, can only mouth mindless cliches ( that also as inelegantly as possible) and doesn’t have a clue what to do or how. The long dark night is settling over us all.

  • Shame on the Congress Government of Karnataka for not providing security to this noble martyr! Is it only in BJP ruled states that such atrocities are not a routine occurrence? Even Siddaramaiah’s barber gets security. Why has he let ‘Democracy be assassinated’ on his watch?
    What is the solution to this problem? President’s Rule? To safeguard Democracy, we must do whatever it takes. Today they come for Sow. Gauri Lankesh. Tomorrow it might be you.
    Get rid of these worthless Congress administrations now!

  • Anjan Basu

    Hasn’t he done that yet? Are you sure? Frankly, I have no idea if he has or not, because I avoid Goswami and his channel like the plague. It used to be called ‘Black Death’, you know? Notice how he is always immaculately dressed in a black jacket. But black for him doesn’t signify mourning ( is the Macho supposed to be in mourning ever?), it means depredation. Recall Mussolini’s Black Shirts running riot.

  • Anjan Basu

    Excellent! So the BJP is trying hard to equal the Congress’ record, is it? My mistake, because I had fallen for Modi’s very loud promises of delivering on an alternative vision for India. Had I known straight out that it was no more than a three-penny jumla, I wouldn’t have wasted my breath. Instead, I would have sat quietly counting the dead that the Sangh family delivers to the nation. How much longer to go, how many more deaths to count, pray?

  • Are you threatening me? You write- ‘Don’t you dare paint Gauri Lankesh’s murder as anything else but the truth: that the Hindutva brigade has silenced another intellectual and will continue to do so with impunity. Fear for your life, yes, because the Hindutva brigade is out for blood, out to get you!’

    What are you saying? Are you part of the Hindutva brigade which is ‘out go get me?’ Or do you think they will just kill me for the heck of it.

    I take it you don’t like the BJP. That’s cool. I like Coke but don’t like Pepsi. I get it. But I don’t write ‘Gauri Lankesh was murdered by Pepsi. Children in Gorakhpur are being killed by Pepsi.’ Why do I not do so? The answer is I’d feel stupid doing it. There has to be a causal link between the event one laments and the agent one enjoys blaming.

  • I demanded President’s rule not just in U.P but also Gujarat. I also demanded to be President and to do the ruling. Why was my demand not met? Was it because it was unconstitutional and based on fallacious arguments? No! It was because of those damned Sanghis who are constantly silence such voices of dissent. Yesterday, my neighbour’s cat died. Why has Narendra Modi not resigned? Is he only concerned with puppy dogs crushed under the wheels of a car in which he is being driven? Why this hatred and persecution of cats? Why this favouritism towards dogs? The answer, of course, is that Modi is just the tool of Neo-Liberalism.

  • Demons don’t actually exist. Still ‘resisting and retaliating against them’ can get you locked up in a psychiatric hospital. Thus it is unsafe to do so.
    Currently, it looks to me as though some votaries of a particular Godman believe that he is about to gain even more supernatural powers and that he will soon establish a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. The CBI has nabbed one such. It is possible that these guys have contacts with respectable people. After all, Aum Shinrikyo looked, on the surface, like a Buddhist outfit. Respectable people, including people here in India, were photographed with the founder. No one suspected that they were lunatics. Similarly Rev. Jim Jones was once a respected Pastor known for Civil Rights work. Few suspected that he was a maniac. Does the fact that Jimmy Carter was a Christian committed to Civil Rights mean that he and Jim Jones were in cahoots? Does the fact that Indian Buddhist leaders met the founder Aum Shinrikyo’s founder mean that they harbour genocidal intentions?
    Gauri Lankesh sympathised with the plight of poor Naxals who wanted to be rehabilitated. She actively helped them to do so and received plaudits from the CM and Police Chief of her State. But she was not a Naxal. She was not ‘anti-National’. What she was doing was for the good of the country.
    I well believe that children die all the time in Gorakhpur because of neglect, incompetence and downright fraud. Dr. Jack Prager exposed corruption in the Indian Public Health System. He also exposed fraudulent practices in Christian NGOs. A Communist administration asked for him to be deported on the grounds that he was secretly a Missionary!

  • It was not my cat. It was my neighbor’s cat. Aggressive Corporations like the Adanis, who are in cahoots with Modi, shamelessly intimidate journalists and public intellectuals associated with the EPW. This terrorism causes them to micturate mightily on any cat which happens to be in the vicinity. Sooner or later such cats die or go missing. There is a direct chain of causation here between Modi’s actions and the death or disappearance of a poor pussycat who belonged to a lady from a Religion which has minority status in India.

    The cause of Gauri Lankesh is different. Unlike my neighbor’s cat, who resided in Europe, there is considerable evidence that she was living in a Hindu majority area. It is well known that Hindus- especially Brahmans- are very intolerant and murderous. We should condemn all Hindus living in India equally because they are completely barbaric and continually show their true character. However, once they have emigrated, Hindus are perfectly law abiding and decent. It is pointless to point the finger just at Hindutva outfits. Every Hindu is potentially a Hindutva supporter. This is fine provided they live abroad, but it has become obvious that those who remain in India will sooner or later turn into rampaging hooligans animated by majoritarian identity politics. Kindly read the Wire magazine carefully. Then you too will understand the nature of the problem your country faces.