This is the first time in several years that the US embassy has reacted to an incident in which an individual has been targeted.
New Delhi: In an unusual move, the US embassy in India has condemned the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh, expressing solidarity with supporters of press freedom.
Lankesh, a fierce votary of freedom of thought and against rising intolerance, was shot dead on Tuesday night at her home.
On Wednesday, US embassy issued a statement:
The U.S. Mission in India joins advocates of press freedom in India and world-wide in condemning the murder of respected journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru. We offer our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Ms. Lankesh.
The statement is significant as this is the first time in several years that the US embassy has reacted to an incident in which an individual has been targeted. Till now, the US embassy has given statements in reaction to terror attacks, but none on such an attack on freedom of expression in India.
US ambassadors have always given strong statements on attacks on freedom of the press in other countries in the neighbourhood, from Maldives to Bangladesh – but have refrained from doing so in India.
In February 2016, then US ambassador to India Richard Verma had advocated that free speech was the key tenet of democracies like India and US.
When asked about his opinion on the row at Jawaharlal Nehru University, he asserted that diversity of thought was a great attribute of India.
“Ultimately this is a question for Indian society to resolve. It is one of the great hallmarks of India and US to have this diversity of thought and diversity of speech and the fact is we are constitutional democracies, where speech is a central tenet of what we hold dear,” he said.
Despite making a rather vague statement, then Union parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu hit back at Verma, asking whether the US would tolerate any campus marking “Osama bin Laden’s martyrdom anniversary”.