Senior journalist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead in her house by unidentified assailants on Tuesday evening. The editor of Lankesh Patrike was found dead in her residence at Rajarajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru. Speaking to reporters, Bengaluru Commissioner of Police, T. Suneel Kumar said the victim was found “in a blood of pool”. He further added that four empty cartridges were found at the crime scene. Kumar said the number of assailants who committed the crime is yet to be ascertained.
Lankesh, who had been a harsh critic of Hindutva politics, was convicted in a defamation case filed by MP Prahlad Joshi over an article published on January 23, 2008, alleging that some BJP leaders in the region were involved in a cheating case.
Following the incident, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah condemned the killing and said he was shocked to learn about the incident. In a tweet, the CM said, “Absolutely shocked to learn about the murder of renowned journalist Gauri Lankesh. I have no words to condemn this heinous crime, In fact, this is an assassination on democracy. In her passing, Karnataka has lost a strong progressive voice, and I have lost a friend.”
Congress vice-President Rahul Gandhi also expressed his condolence on the incident. In a tweet, Gandhi said that the culprits will be punished. “The truth will never be silenced. Gauri Lankesh lives on in our hearts. My condolences & love to her family. The culprits have to be punished,” he said. Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal also spoke on the incident. In a tweet, the former Union Minister described the murder as an “attempt to stifle reason”. “Gauri a rationalist silenced by gunshots. Her murder is an attempt to stifle reason, to silence those holding contrarian views. Tragic,” Sibal said.
CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury described the killing as “reprehensible” and said there is an “eerie pattern” to violence. In a tweet, Yechury said, “The cold-blooded murder of Gauri Lankesh is reprehensible. Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi – such murderous violence has an eerie pattern. Another CPI (M) leader, Brinda Karat described the incident as a “Hindutva hate murder” and demanded an arrest of the culprits.
Former AAP leader and Swaraj India National President, Yogendra Yadav, expressed similar reactions over the killing. In a tweet, Yadav said, “Pansare, Kalburgi and now Gauri Lankesh! Same pattern: shot by masked men Same motive: Silence voices of dissent? Same forces?”
In a statement, RSS Karnataka unit expressed deep sorrow over the “heinous” murder of Gauri. “RSS appeals to the state government to act soon on the criminals responsible and bring them to the book,” it said. Veteran BJP Leader K S Eshwarappa rapped the Siddaramaiah government for “failing” to protect the lives of people,including those of noted writers like Kalburgi and Gauri.
Minister of Youth affairs and Sports Rajyavardhan Rathore took to Twitter to denounce the incident. “Terrible news from Bengaluru about the heinous murder of Gauri Lankesh. I condemn all acts of violence against journalists,” he said. Meanwhile, BJP national general secretary P Muralidhar Rao blamed the Siddaramiah government for the incident and said, “The murder of Gauri Lankesh is condemnable outright, onus is on Siddaramaiah to ensure proper investigation.”
National Conference leader Omar Abdulla also tweeted, “If it is BJP ruled state, Liberals would have cried for emergency, Intolerance, Fascism.”
Describing the incident as shocking and tragic senior lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said, “Shocking & tragic! Brave journalist Gauri Lankesh who exposed the BJP has been shot dead in her home in Bangalore!”
The media fraternity also slammed the killing. Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta said that Lankesh will continue to live on as inspiration. “Journalism is nothing without courage. Democracy is nothing without dissent. You had plenty of both #GauriLankesh You live on as inspiration.” Senior journalist Barkha Dutt described the murder as “chilling scary and outrageous”. In a tweet, she said, “This is chilling scary and outrageous. So far always took online death & rape threats with a pinch of salt. Now we must all pause & wonder.”