Outraged over the gunning down of one of their own, Gauri Lankesh, prominent journalists from across the city gathered at the Press Club of India in New Delhi, and demanded justice amid call for standing up to “forces” trying to the “muzzle” the voices of dissent. Author and senior journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta termed Tuesday’s killing of Lankesh in Bengaluru as “a defining moment” in the history of Indian media.
“We are seeing the space for free-thinking shrinking. They want to silence the people who want to hold truth to power. We cannot remain silent, because that is what they want. Don’t keep quiet. That would be their success,” he said.
Lankesh, 55, was shot dead by unidentified assailants at the entrance of her residence in the Rajrajeshwari Nagar, Karnataka police chief R K Dutta said.
An outspoken critic of the Hindutva politics, Lankesh was the editor Kannada tabloid Gauri Lankesh Patrike, besides owning some other publications.
The Press Club of India (PCI) had on Tuesday strongly condemned the killing, saying, “A fearless and independent journalist who gave voice to many causes and always stood up for justice has been shot dead in the most brutal manner in order to silence her voice.”
The PCI, along with Press Association and Indian Women Press Corps (IWPC), is holding a protest meet, which began at at 3 pm today, against the killing of Lankesh. Senior journalist Manini Chatterjee said, “Regardless of legislative majority, certain rights should be inviolable.”
The Club has demanded that the attackers be identified and brought to book in a swift manner. “What is wrong in being a journalist and also an activist or vice-versa,” Thakurta asked.
“There was a criminal defamation case against Lankesh. Why was Gauri targeted for the same story that was published by several others? At this defining moment in the right to free speech, we cannot forget Gauri, if we do, their objective would be served,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) also staged a protest at the Jantar Mantar.
The Delhi unit of the forum said the killing of senior Kannada journalist was an example of “politics of intolerance”.
The KUWJ also said it is an “attempt” to muzzle the voices of criticisms.
“She was not only a journalist but a social activist who shared the concerns of the society. This murder is similar to the killings of M M Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare,” KUWJ said in a statement.