Indian police have arrested a right-wing activist in connection to the murder to Indian journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh. The victim had been an outspoken critic of rising right wing politics in India.
Gauri Lankesh was a prominent journalist and writer, who lived in Bangalore, Karnataka. She was an outspoken activist who would often speak against right-wing Hindu nationalism. Her father, P. Lankesh, was also a journalist, Left-wing poet and writer - who founded the Kannada weekly called LankeshPatrike. Gauri Lankesh enjoyed a storied career in top newspapers like Times of India. She would later work with her brother for several years while running the LankeshPatrike. Eventually, she started her own weekly called the Gauri LankeshPatrike.
On September 5th, 2017, Lankesh was found murdered in her home, shot to death by unknown assailants. Currently, the motive behind the murder is unknown. However, people have alleged that it had to do with her rationalist views.
In 2015, M. M. Kalburgi, an India scholar and a rationalist, was murdered in his residence by two unidentified men. At the time, many believed it was due to his beliefs in rationalism. Narendra Dabholkar, anti-superstition advocate and a rationalist, was murdered in 2013.
After Lankesh was murdered, the watchdog Reporters Without Borders released a statement noting, “With Hindu nationalists trying to purge all manifestations of 'anti-national' thought from the national debate, self-censorship is growing in the mainstream media.” Her murder was met with mass protests and uproar and she was given a state funeral in Karnataka. Additionally, the Karnataka government announced a reward of ₹10 lakh for information about the killers.
Months later, in March 2018, K.T. Naveen Kumar alias Hotte Manja has been arrested in connection to this incident. He had been interrogated by the SIT on suspicion that he had provided logistics to the killers of the activist. The officials noted that they wanted his custody increased by five days as he was not forthcoming with details regarding the killers. In addition, assistant public prosecutor Nirmala Rani said that Kumar’s associate has been identified but has not been detained yet.
In its remand application, the SIT named Naveen as accused No. 1 and sought his custody saying that he assisted Lankesh’s killers in carrying out the job, but was not forthcoming on the details. The SIT intends to put him through forensic tests. Kumar and his associate allegedly scoped Lankesh’s home before the murder had taken place. Kumar was formerly the president of Hindu YuvaSene and hails from Maddur in Mandya district.
Our assessment is that the Preamble to the Constitution asserts that India is a secular nation. Those values need to be upheld for all citizens of this democracy. In order to protect this, authorities have to conduct a thorough investigation on the murder.