Senior journalist Gauri Lankesh was on Tuesday shot dead by unidentified assailants at her residence in Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwari Nagar. The news was confirmed by city police commissioner. She was the editor of Lankesh Patrike, a weekly Kannada magazine and had been a staunch critic of Hindutva politics. According to reports, Lankesh succumbed to multiple bullet wounds on her body. Reflecting on the incident, DCP (West) MN Anucheth said her body was found on the veranda of her house.
Last year, she was held guilty in a defamation case filed by MP Prahlad Joshi and party associate Umesh Dushi over an article published on January 23, 2008, alleging that some BJP leaders in the region were involved in a cheating case.
“We found Gauri Lankesh lying in a pool of blood; found four empty cartridges from the scene of offence”, said Bangalore commissioner of police, T. Suneel Kumar. He further added that it remains unclear how many bullets entered her body. “Out of four, how many entered her body, only post mortem report will tell,” he said. “People in front of her house heard gunshots and saw Lankesh collapsed in verandah before entering house”, Kumar added. The official said the number of assailants who committed the crime remains unclear at the moment.
The police commissioner further said that they will investigate if Lankesh was facing any threats. “”She didn’t complain of anything. If she anywhere expressed about threats, it will be thoroughly investigated,” the Bengaluru Police Commissioner said.
Condemning the “heinous crime”, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he was shocked to learn of the murder of the renowned journalist. “Absolutely shocked to learn about the murder of renowned journalist Gauri Lankesh. I have no words to condemn this heinous crime,” he tweeted.
“In fact, this is an assassination on democracy. In her passing, Karnataka has lost a strong progressive voice, and I have lost a friend,” the CM added.
In fact, this is an assassination on democracy. In her passing, Karnataka has lost a strong progressive voice, and I have lost a friend.
— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) September 5, 2017
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Giving updates on the on-going investigation into the case, Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said that teams are currently working on the CCTV footage. “There are two CCTV cameras; three teams are working on this,” Reddy told reporters.
Lankesh, who was in her 50s, was the daughter of famous poet-turned-journalist P Lankesh, who started Lankesh Patrike.
A host of journalists have strongly condemned the murder of the prominent journalist on social media. “As a friend, colleague & admirer for decades shocked & shattered to hear of the murder of Gauri Lankesh, one of India’s gutsiest journalists,” said Vir Sanghvi, an eminent media personality.
Lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan tweeted: “Shocking & tragic! Brave journalist Gauri Lankesh who exposed the BJP has been shot dead in her home in Bangalore!” Meanwhile, a candle march honouring the deceased journalist is being carried out in the Gulbarg district of Karnataka.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a Facebook post, described the incident as “shocking”. Describing Lankesh as a “fearless mediaperson”, Vijayan further said the incident took place when progressive secular thoughts were getting strengthened in the state of Karnataka. He further hoped the culprits behind the crime will soon be apprehended.
In reaction to the killing, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi expressed his condolences. In a post on Twitter, Gandhi said the culprits must 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 wrote on Twitter.
Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal, in a tweet, described the murder as an “attempt to stifle reason”. In a tweet, the former Union Minister said, “Gauri a rationalist silenced by gunshots. Her murder is an attempt to stifle reason, to silence those holding contrarian views. Tragic.”
The Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) also condemned the senior journalist’s assassination. “Gauri was a trenchant critic of obscurantism and conservative values. The silencing of a journalist in this manner has dangerous portents for democracy. “We demand that the government apprehend the perpetrators at the earliest and expose those behind this planned murder of a senior woman journalist,” IWPC said in a statement.
IWPC will tomorrow hold a joint protest with the Press Club of India and the Press Association.
With inputs from PTI, ANI