Monday, September 25, 2017
NEW DELHI: The first indication that Gauri Lankesh’s murder has more than a political edge came not from the Opposition but from a BJP MLA and former Minister Jeevaraj who said at a meeting in Koppa Taluk of Chikkamagaluru that if she had not written against the RSS she would have been alive today.
India Today that ran a clip of his address to BJP workers confIrmed the remarks of the BJP legislator as, “during the Congress government we have seen how RSS workers have lost their lives. Gauri Lankesh had written in her paper about 'chaddigala marana homa' or the slaughter of the RSS. Now if Gauri Lankesh had refrained from writing articles like that she would have probably been alive today. Gauri is like a sister to me but the way she has written against us (BJP and Sangh), it is unacceptable".
These remarks are revealing to say the least, and make a direct link between Lankesh’s work and her murder.
There have been several pointers before and after her murder. One, Gauri Lankesh herself had been under attack from the BJP and right wing affiliates. She had said so on many an occasion, criminal defamation cases had been filed against her by BJP legislators, and she was out on bail. She had spoken directly of the threats she had received from right wing organisations, with many of her friends in Bangalore worried about her safety.
Two, after her murder, the same forces that had threatened her, celebrated her murder. Venomous tweets and posts on the social media targeted the dead journalist again, with filthy abuse and accusations. Those mourning her death were reminded by this particularly vicious army of trolls that she had died defending communism, naxalism what have you, and they could meet with the same fate. Again tweets that ironically hinted at a nexus with more clarity than the Karnataka police that is still groping for clues. There have been particularly interesting exchanges on Facebook as well where participants have spoken of the need to act against all those opposing the government and the BJP in similar fashion.
Three, the above remarks of the BJP legislator.
Four, the Karnataka police excruciatingly slow investigation that has basically established that the weapon used to kill Lankesh is of the same make as that used to kill the rationalists. The Indian Express reported, “the 7.65 mm countrymade weapon used for the killing of the journalist is of the same kind as the weapons used in the killing of rationalist and Kannada scholar M M Kalburgi, 77, on August 30, 2015 at Dharwad, and those used in the murder of Maharashtra rationalists Govind Pansare, 81, in Kolhapur on February 16, 2015 and Narendra Dabholkar in Pune on August 20, 2013.
Forensic investigations of the cartridges and bullets recovered from the unsolved murders of Kalburgi, Pansare and Dabholkar have revealed that the 7.65 mm pistol used to kill Kalburgi in 2015 was the same gun that was used to murder Pansare the same year. The forensic probe also revealed that one of two guns used to shoot Pansare was used to kill Dabholkar in 2013.
The Bengaluru police are likely to seek forensic analysis of the bullet fragments and cartridges from the crime scene of the murder of Lankesh for comparison with similar material found in the killings of Kalburgi, Pansare and Dabholkar to confirm/rule out involvement of a common group.”
The murder has been polarising in its impact, and while there is no evidence so far that will stand in a court of law, there is a perception that is growing by the day because of the right wing celebration and refusal to condemn the murder. The refrain has been “it will happen to you too” on the social media, with the threats being circulated against independent journalists.
Meanwhile the Karnataka police is under the scanner because of its notorious reputation where solving incidents like this are concerned. This has been one of those rare occasions where all journalist bodies have come out in strong condemnation, expressing their apprehension of a political assassination through the demand of a thorough enquiry and immediate arrest of Lankesh’s killers.
As many scribes and posts have stated over the past few days, while who killed Gauri Lankesh has to be conclusively established everyone knows what killed her---her anti-right wing campaign, her independent views, her bold and courageous stand on issues, and her refusal to compromise on what she believed to be the truth.