Thousands took the streets in Bangalore to protest the murder of the rationalist journalist, Gauri Lankesh.
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 who founded the Kannada weekly called Lankesh Patrike. Her father was also a Left-wing poet and writer. Guari 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 Lankesh Patrike. Eventually, she started her own weekly called the Gauri Lankesh Patrike.
On September 5th, 2017, Lankesh was found murdered in her home. She had been 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 also murdered in 2013.
Gauri Lankesh’s murder was met with uproar across India. She was a given a state funeral in Karnataka. She was honored by politicians from various political parties. Additionally, Karnataka government announced a reward of ₹10 lakh for providing information about the killers.
The public have also expressed their outrage with many expressing concerns over the safety of journalists in India. 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.”
In Kerala, K P Sasikala, the Kerala Hindu Aikyavedi leader threatened that other secular writers in India would face the same fate as Gauri Lankesh if they didn’t stop. Her statements were condemned immediately by the state government and the opposition. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “The attempt to divide people on the lines of religion and caste will be viewed seriously. It is sad such utterances also reached Kerala.”
Over 15,000 members of the public took to the streets to protest over her murder. The rally was organized by 21 civil society groups. Many who protested wore a black band that read “I am Gauri.” Documentarian Rakesh Sharma was quoted by the BBC as saying, “When I say 'I am Gauri', it means that we will not allow us to be silenced. The idea of a socialist and secular India is still alive. We will come in front of you, we will not wait for you. Who all will you target?" he asked.
Our assessment is that there needs to be a meticulous investigation conducted to decipher the motive behind Lankesh’s murder. The Preamble to the Constitution asserts that India is a secular nation. Those values need to be upheld for all citizens of this democracy.