New Delhi: The BJP has sent a legal notice to writer and historian Ramachandra Guha for linking the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh to the Sangh parivar.
According to ANI, Karnataka BJP Yuva Morcha secretary Karunakar Khasale was behind the legal notice.
Guha, who is abroad at the moment and unavailable for comment, tweeted a little later in the evening saying that Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said the answer to a book or article can only be another book or article. But we no longer live in Vajpayee’s India. He also tweeted saying that independent writers and journalists are being harassed in India today and even killed, “but we shall not be silenced”.
In India today, independent writers and journalists are harassed, persecuted, and even killed. But we shall not be silenced.
— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) September 11, 2017
According to The News Minute, Khasalwas has demanded that “Guha issue an unconditional apology for his statements within three days of receiving the notice, or civil and criminal proceedings would be initiated against him”.
The legal notice takes specific objection to what Guha said in an interview to Scroll.in the day after Lankesh was killed: “It is very likely that her [Gauri Lankesh’s] murderers came from the same Sangh Parivar from which the murderers of [Govind] Pansare, [Narendra] Dabholkar and [M.M.] Kalburgi came.”
A member of the Sanatan Sanstha, a pro-Hindutva outfit has been arrested for one of the murders, which investigators believe are linked to the same set of perpetrators.
Like many analysts and commentators, and the family members of Pansare and the others, Guha made a similar statement when talking to the Indian Express, saying that Lankesh’s murder was part of the pattern of the murder the three rationalists. “The climate of hate and intolerance that has been promoted by this current (BJP) government, aided by television channels and freelance goondas, is complicit in this murder. It is chilling. We are becoming mirror images of Bangladesh and Pakistan, where writers are killed for what they say. This is an attempt to silence all of us, all of those who believe in democracy and decency,” he told the newspaper.
Gauri Lankesh’s death has been widely mourned by ordinary, decent, Indians. On the other hand, it has been ghoulishly celebrated by Hindutva right-wingers. The senior Cabinet Minister, Nitin Gadkari, has denied that the BJP or its affiliates had anything to do with Gauri Lankesh’s murder. How, so soon after the event, can he be so sure? Even if the BJP or the RSS is not directly involved in this and similar murders, there is little question that the ruling dispensation has enabled a climate of hate and suspicion that makes such targeted killings of writers and scholars possible. It may be freelancers who actually commit these acts; but they are emboldened by politicians, ideologues and television anchors who demonise all critics of the ruling regime as anti-national. The political climate is now more poisonous and rancorous than at any time since the Emergency.
The legal notice sent on behalf of the BJP Yuva Morcha also takes strong objection to the HT article:
Our Client states that after seeing and hearing your statements made in the said and after reading the said article written by you in Hindustan Times, many people met the members of our Client’s organisation and enquired with them with regard to your statements. Our client’s organisation as well as its members also received numerous phone calls from its sympathisers as a fall out of your false statement. Of the numerous enquiries our client received, many were enquiries by men of reputable social standing like that of industrialist Mr. Shivalingayya of Peenya Industrial Area, Mr. DM Kiran, renowned entrepreneur from Banashankari, Prof. Hemanth Kumar, Professor at NMIT and Mr. Rajagopal, businessman from Dasarahalli, to name a few.
The notice claims both the interview and the article are defamatory amd gives Guha three days to apologise.
Note: The story was edited at 0300 on September 12 to add details from the legal notice.
Note: Ramachandra Guha is on the board of trustees of the Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation, one of the funders of The Wire.