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Gauri Lankesh murder: ‘Murder of democracy, climate of hate, intolerance complicit,’ says civil society

Gauri Lankesh murder: Kannada writer Vivek Shanbhag said the murder of the anti-establishment journalist was a clear message “to shut up”.

Written by Amrita Dutta | Bengaluru | Updated: September 6, 2017 11:41 am
gauri lankesh, gauri lankesh murder, gauri lankesh death, journalist shot dead, bangalore journalist dead, gauri lankesh death reaction, indian express news Police outside journalist Gauri Lankesh’s residence in Bengaluru on Tuesday. (Source: PTI Photo)

Members of the literary community spoke out strongly against the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh, calling it an attempt to “silence those who believe in democracy and decency”. Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, who was hounded into silence in 2015 by protests against his work, said, “One thought that this sort of sentiment had died down. This incident proves that the climate of hatred and intolerance seems to be alive. We need to respond to this attack with awareness and continued diligence.”

Historian Ramachandra Guha said Lankesh’s murder was “part of a pattern that links the deaths of (Narendra) Dabholkar, (M M) Kalburgi and (Govind) Pansare”. “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.” Read | Who is Gauri Lankesh?

Malayalam poet K Satchidanandan called it “murder of democracy”. “Any bold and independent dissenter can now become the target of fascists. We need to develop a zero-tolerance policy towards such dastardly acts. This is the fourth murder in a series and now any dissenter could become a target. It is high time all lovers of freedom and democracy come together on a common platform,” he said.

Writer and linguist Ganesh Devy, who now lives in Dharwad, also said he believed Lankesh’s murder was linked to the assassinations of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi. “This monstrous shadow of fascist forces now looms over the lives of everyone here,” he said.

Kannada writer Vivek Shanbhag said the murder of the anti-establishment journalist was a clear message: “to shut up”. “She has been very critical of what has been happening in our society, what is happening around us. She was not partial in her criticism… She was always against those who committed atrocities and for the downtrodden. She was a fearless journalist. And this is a shameful act for all of us. What kind of society have we become?” Read | Gauri Lankesh journalist who spoke her mind shot dead in Bengaluru

Many remembered Lankesh as an equal opportunity offender and exceptionally bold woman. “She was the daughter of (Kannada poet, writer, journalist and playwright) P Lankesh, one of the most outspoken people in Karnataka. She inherited that courage and fearlessness. She was a journalist but also an activist,” said Devy.

“It is not easy to be a woman, an activist and a fearless person in this country,” said theatreperson Arundhati Nag, a friend of Lankesh. “She was a strong social and political voice, and this is what we need — people who can speak out. This is not how you deal with someone who is anti-establishment.”

Guha too believed that Lankesh earned the ire of the extremist right-wing, “which is particularly offended by independent women”.

Critic and translator Chandan Gowda, who teaches at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, and who knew Lankesh well, said she often received threats for her work. “Over the years, she had grown indifferent to them. She was deeply concerned and critical of the growth of right-wing Hindutva,” he said. Gowda said he remembered her as a “fabulous force, an extremely warm and giving person”. “It was impossible not to like her,” he said.

Also read | Gauri Lankesh’s last day: Rohingya tragedy, gay rights, Gorakhpur deaths

S Anand, publisher of the anti-caste imprint Navayana, recalled how eager Lankesh was to publish a Kannada translation of D N Jha’s The Myth of the Holy Cow when the BJP was in power in Karnataka. “She was always up for a challenge and took on everyone. This is clearly an execution, but someone else is pulling the trigger. They killed her so easily,” he said.

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    Bigbitha Francis
    Sep 7, 2017 at 1:00 pm
    What's happening to our nation? Too much atrocities and violence.
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    1. Anil Bahl
      Sep 7, 2017 at 10:53 am
      I'm sorry to say that Civil Society thinks that only BJP in centre is the establishment in the country. There is a state government led by an opposition party in Karnataka, which was also feeling threatened by her intention to expose something against them. In view of impending state elections they had more reasons to act against her. Her brother has blamed an informal establishment of Naxals for her murder. How come Civil Society can't see any other angle? And they are also not asking for CBI enquiries to ascertain the truth. They are acting as if they are the advocates as well as judges in the matter. Are they funded by or sold to Congress? Or is the Civil Society peeved by discontinuation of previleges enjoyed by the in pre-Modi era? The are proving themselves illogical and making themselves irrelevant. Bye bye Civil Society.
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        Hemant Bapat
        Sep 6, 2017 at 11:51 pm
        The govt is tight-lipped on this murder and many such murders done by so called religious protectors of this society. While govt is right in taking a tough stand against international militant agencies carrying out terrororust activities from neighbouring country, it is surprisingly quiet on the internal threat from home grown fundamentalists and Indian terrorists... Who are spreading religious hatred amongst Indians... These so called Hindu terrorists and Islamic terrorists are 2 sides of the same coin...
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        1. Pradeep Chaturvedi
          Sep 6, 2017 at 3:05 pm
          INTELLECTUALS should have been in IB department they have come to the conclusion that some Wing is responsible for the dastardly murder. BIG JOKE. Barking at the wrong tree allowing real criminals to get away. LOW I.Q. of Kannada intellectuals
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          1. chandra
            Sep 6, 2017 at 2:36 pm
            First Indian express report and news are totally baised. secondly without proper investigation, no one can point out on any Party or Group. Most important why every time journalists are killed in Karnataka or Kerala? Pl think about this.
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