Slain journalist Gauri Lankesh’s mother and sister joined Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday for the Karnataka leg of the party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Indira Lankesh, Gauri’s mother, and Kavita Lankesh, her sister, took part in the march at Bhuvanahalli village of Mandya district’s Nagamangala taluk.
After walking hand-in-hand with them for a while, Rahul asked Indira to follow the march in a car before continuing on foot with Kavita, a filmmaker, who walked another three kilometres with the former Congress president.
Gauri Lankesh, who was a journalist and activist, was assassinated on September 5, 2017. A Special Investigation Team formed to probe the killing has named pro-Hindutva group Sanatan Sanstha in its chargesheet.
Kavita told The Indian Express that Rahul “sought to understand why they had assassinated” Gauri.
She also said that Rahul recalled the assassination of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi. “Both of us have lost someone dear to us very cruelly,” Kavita said.
She also said that her discussions with the Congress leader touched on the importance of ensuring that humanity prevails despite what she described as attempts to vitiate Indian society.
Taking to Twitter, Rahul Gandhi said, “Gauri stood for truth, Gauri stood for courage, Gauri stood for freedom. I stand for Gauri Lankesh and countless others like her, who represent the true spirit of India. Bharat Jodo Yatra is their voice. It can never be silenced.”
Congress general secretary in charge of communications, Jairam Ramesh, also tweeted about Kavita and Indira joining Rahul’s march.
“We all know the ideology that killed Gauri Lankesh. Rahul Gandhi walks with Gauri Lankesh’s mother and sister and tells the world that truth can never be suppressed by hate and violence. Bharat Jodo Yatra is a symbol of hope, non-violence and truth,” Ramesh said.
The Congress’s Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir yatra entered its 30th day and continues to attract large crowds. On Friday, the yatris marched in Mandya district, starting their day at K Mallenahalli and ending it at Belluru.
During a break in the march, Rahul interacted with professors from the National Law School of India University as well as other academics and teachers. They discussed problems faced by the education sector in the country, and issues such as the hijab row that broke out in campuses in Karnataka earlier this year.
“The professors identified commercialisation, communalisation and centralisation as the three major problems ailing education in the country,” the Congress’s Rajeev Gowda, a former Rajya Sabha MP, said after the interaction.
Later, speaking at a public meeting at Belluru, Rahul raised concerns regarding GST rates applied on essential goods such as fertilisers and fuel.
“Women were asking me why the (gas) cylinder that cost Rs 400 during UPA rule costs more than Rs 1,000 now. The answer is simple. BJP is now working against the poor,” he said.