Introspection at Jantar Mantar: Why Was Gauri Lankesh A Rare Voice, Why Are More Not Like Her?
NEW DELHI: Jantar Mantar, in the heart of national capital is a known place for public protest. But the protest that took place here on the evening of September 7 , 2017 was very unusual.
The protest against the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh was not a mass protest nor was it aimed for garnering a mass base. It was more of introspection by the participants most of whom shared Lankesh’s fraternity, political stand, friendship and social concerns.
Many a speaker on the staged invoked, repeatedly, one single feeling. Are we doing what we are supposed to do as journalists, as activists and as citizens? Questions such as, who killed Lankesh? Or who is trying to derail the investigation and what other powers are at play here, seemed secondary. As one speaker put it, “It is not enough to say that Gauri Lankesh was a rare voice of courage. The right question is, why was she the rare voice? Why are there not many voices like her?”
Manobina Gupta, a senior journalist, spoke whether the killing of Lankesh would bring any change in the news room. She said, “In the last couple of days, after Gauri Lankesh killing, we journalists have been discussing whether things in the news room change or we will continue to dodge the issues facing us. Well, some are positive about the change and some are pessimistic.”
Activist Kavita Krishnan was again talking about introspection. She said, “We have to make our voice strong enough to draw the fire of the oppressors. We will try to be worthy of the bullets.” The gathering of around one thousand was made up of largely scribes, social activist, members of civil society and students. Navin Jain, a student of Ambedkar University was there with his friends. He was busy distributing posters to mark the protest. Says he, “killing of journalist or a social worker or anyone who has a voice of dissent, is totally not acceptable in a civil society. We have come here as we feel that this has to stop.”
Poet Manglesh Dabral, read a poem that spoke about the fear of facing reality in today’s India. He also spoke about increasing use of language as a weapon of terrorism.
Film maker and activist Sanjay Kak, said that the fire has now reached us. “We cannot continue to get together to mourn the loss of our friends and colleagues. We have to bring the change now.”
Some speakers also talked about the attempts already being made to cast aspersions on the deceased journalist and attempts to influence the investigation. “We have to go beyond trying to find the culprits. We all know that they may never be caught. We have to take the fight to another level now,” says Ashutosh Awasthi, a JNU student.