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‘Citizen who speaks freely no longer safe’: Gauri Lankesh’s murder sparks outrage

Journalists, politicians and activists unite to condemn the murder of Bengaluru journalist Gauri Lankesh.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2017 17:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Gauri Lankesh,Gouri Lankesh,Gauri Lankesh wiki
People pay last respects to slain senior journalist Gauri Lankesh at Kalashetra in Bengaluru on Wednesday. (Arijit Sen / Hindustan Times)

Journalists, authors, rights activists and members of Parliament expressed outrage over the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh on Wednesday, a day after the 55-year-old was shot dead by unidentified assailants outside her home in Bengaluru.

Protests were planned across India by journalist groups, including the Editors’ Guild, Press Club of India and Press Association. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Indian Writers’ Forum pledged to continue Lankesh’s fight. ”The forum condemns the continued unmaking of India in which writers, artists, scholars, rationalists - and indeed any citizen who exercises her right to speak freely - is no longer safe,” it said.

Senior journalists expressed their shock and anger at losing a brave colleague, but also spoke out against what they saw as a muzzling of dissent with bullets.

Mourners stand next to a portrait of journalist Gauri Lankesh during the public viewing of her body in Bengaluru. ( AP Photo )

Veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta tweeted: “Journalism is nothing without courage. Democracy is nothing without dissent. Lankesh had plenty of both.”

The journalism fraternity banded together to condemn the attack. “To those who use guns to silence dissent, you are cowards. And your bullets may kill but will not deter the brave,” said Rajdeep Sardesai.

India has a poor track record when it comes to protecting journalists. The country slipped three places to 136th in this year’s World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

Lankesh’s murder made many commentators recall similar killings of activists Narendra Dhabolkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi.

“To kill someone for their views is not Democracy, its beginnings of a Banana Republic, where violence speaks louder than words,” said film director Shekhar Kapur.

Lankesh’s murder shook the political class, too, with leaders across parties condemning the attack. Karanataka chief minister Siddaramiah called Lankesh’s killing “an assault on democracy”, promising a free and fair probe.

Talking to media in New Delhi, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said: “Anybody who speaks against the ideology of the BJP-RSS is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed.”

“It is very sad that a journalist against fanaticism was killed. The entire country is with her. Truth cannot be suppressed,” he added.

Lankesh was a known critic of the right-wing and had attacked the Modi government over its policies and politics. She had been convicted in a defamation case filed by BJP lawmaker Prahlad Joshi over a 2008 article.

Minsters from the ruling party condemned the attack on Wednesday, asking for a speedy investigation. “Terrible news from Bengaluru about the heinous murder of Gauri Lankesh. I condemn all acts of violence against journalists,” said sports minister Rajyavardhan Rathore.

Minister of information and broadcasting Smriti Z Irani also condemned the attack.

First Published: Sep 06, 2017 15:06 IST