NEW DELHI: Several organisations and individuals have taken to the streets in different parts of the country to protest against the brutal killing of senior journalist, Gauri Lankesh. Gauri was shot dead by assassins at her residence on Tuesday, in Karnataka.

An outspoken, strong and articulate journalist, Gauri had been known to voice her dissent over the climate of hate mongering in the country.

In an exclusive interview with The Citizen, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta recounts “she chose to work in Karnataka and that made her more dangerous to those who opposed her views, because she would reach out to the ordinary people who spoke only Kannada and not English or Hindi for that matter. So, it was a systematic attack. She was targeted”.

Series of statements condemning the murder have been issued since the incident, while protests meetings have been organised in different parts of the country, today.

A statement issued by the All India Democratic Womens Association said ‘Such a serious crime being committed in the capital city of Bengaluru is alarming and outrageous. It underscores the complete lack of safety in homes and on the streets of a city which boasts of a significant presence of women professionals. The murder must be investigated effectively and with urgency, so that the culprits are caught and punished in an exemplary manner’.

The statement issued by Malini Bhattacharya (President, AIDWA) and Mariam Dhawale (General Secretary, AIDWA) adds, “She continued with her activism on many issues, and publicly expounded an uncompromising Left and progressive stance in a growingly hostile atmosphere. She openly questioned the policies and politics of the BJP Government, despite intimidation. The motives behind the killing are a wakeup call to the democratic minded sections at large- can this intimidation and annihilation of voices be allowed to succeed?”

Similarly, in a recent press release the Editors Guild of India demands that “the Karnataka Government acts with alacrity to bring the culprits to justice apart from instituting a judicial probe into the killing. Her killing is an ominous portent for dissent in democracy and a brutal assault on the freedom of the press.”

Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed her “deepest condolences to the family and friends of Gauri Lankesh”, in a statement issued by the Alll India Congress Committee. The statement further states “in condemning this debilitating attack, the Congress party stands as one with the rationalists, thinkers, journalists and the media fraternity”.

“ANHAD is deeply anguished at the assassination of Gauri Lankesh, noted journalist and intrepid activist. We condemn in the strongest terms possible this act of cowardice by her killers who wish to spread fear and suppress dissent. ANHAD will not let this shock dampen our intent to fight the forces that she took on. As a leading voice against majoritarian and undemocratic politics and one that fearlessly stood for the freedom of expression in India, her passing away is a severe shock for those dedicated to a secular and just India.We demand immediate arrest of those behind the assassination” reads a statement issued by ANHAD.

The Civil Liberties Monitoring Commitee harps on a similar demand while stating “We demand Govt. Of India to perform its solemn duty and control and curb the rising Hindutva fascist gangs in the country and not to use them as a political tool to silence the democratic voices in the country”.

“The country must unite to isolate forces of Hindutva terror patronised by RSS and defeat their divisive agenda. All mass and class organisations and social organisations must take up countrywide campaigns and mobilise against the forces of hate by uniting broadest sections. All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) calls upon its members to protest against this heinous crime and attack on secularism”, as stated by Amra Rann (President, AIKS) and Hannan Mollah (General Secretary, AIKS)

Condemning the murder, the statement by the Indian Writers’ Forum reads as follows:

“This is a chilling continuation of the series of murders of rationalists, writers, scholars and activists, from Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare to MM Kalburgi. None of the murderers has been punished, though much points to the extended right wing family. Instead, the punishment of critical voices continues, as do attacks against Muslims, dalits, Adivasis and women – Indian citizens all.

Gauri Lankesh performed her duties as a journalist and a citizen with uncompromising honesty. She was guided by democratic, secular values, that insist on an India in which speaking up against division and hatred is every citizen’s right.

The Indian Writers’ Forum condemns the brutal murder of Gauri Lankesh. 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. We pledge to continue Gauri’s fight against the haters of free speech and a plural India. We will continue to speak on her behalf and ours. They cannot silence us all.

For the Indian Writers Forum:

Githa Hariharan
K. Satchidanandan
Ashok Vajpeyi
Ganesh Devy
Nayantara Sahgal
Keki Daruwalla
Kiran Nagarkar
Shashi Deshpande
Romila Thapar
Anuradha Kapur
Indira Jaising
Shyam B. Menon
Chandrakant Patil
Adil Jussawalla
and others