BENGALURU/NEW DELHI: “We know who it is,” the honourable Home Minister of Karnataka Ramalinga Reddy told the media on October 3. “But we cannot say who it is because this will jeopardise the investigation.”This was after a month of silence after journalist Gauri Lankesh was killed in cold blood outside her home allegedly by two men---or is three?-- on a two wheeler.

Today is December 17, over two months since the big statement by the Karnataka Minister. We are still waiting for the Congress government in Karnataka to arrest the “we know who it is” and in doing so break the cover of impunity under which this brutal act was committed.

There has not been a word from the state government since. In October, responding to public pressure that was making itself felt at the time through a series of protests across India, the Karnataka police released two vague sketches of the supposed killers. This came with the above five word sentence from Minister Reddy. Silence since, as if this murder never happened, and does not need to be resolved.

The outrage had brought people from all walks of life onto the streets. In Bengaluru the protests had begun within hours of her murder. Journalist bodies had issued initial statements, with a couple of follow ons. And since then silence from the media as well on this issue. Lankesh was killed because of being brave, and outspoken and carrying out investigations that seemed to have hurt local right wing interests. She was facing a defamation case filed by two local BJP leaders as well.

The outrage was further sparked by celebratory posts by persons whose accounts Prime Minister Narendra Modi was following onTwitter. Instead of remorse, or at worst silence, the social media responses spoke in favour of the brutal murder, again with an impunity that seems to have become the norm. There was no response against this from senior leaders of the government.

There has been little from the Karnataka government as well on the case, with little headway reported in three months.

Instead there have been any number of red herrings with unsubstantiated evidence planted in the media by ‘sources’. Sample:

-there were at least three men;

-the gun-7.65mm bore-- used was the same make as used to kill rationalist MM Kalburgi;

-the government has sent the evidence to Scotland Yard for further forensic verification;

-an illegal arms haul in Bengaluru (this in December) is being investigated to unearth links between the murder and gun runners;

- there was another plot to kill a journalist that was aborted and one Tahir Hussain has been arrested in this connection;

And so on and so forth. With little substance, half baked news plants with the ‘sources’ clearly confident that the media will not ask the questions that will expose the lack of movement on this case.

Minister Reddy said the police was collecting evidence to fix the people they had identified as the killers. Two months have passed, and either the police is incompetent, not interested, or under some kind of pressure not to solve the case. Any one of the three reasons does not speak well for the police and the government of Karnataka that should have taken this case as high priority and cracked it by now.

Even basic questions have not been answered:

  1. How many killers were there;
  2. Was it personal or professional enmity;
  3. Their modus operandi and links.

Because of the plants by ‘sources’ there has just been some wild speculation, a few sketches, and a ‘we know who it is but we will not tell’ statement. Nothing more in real terms on the Gauri Lankesh murder.

As for the media, it is unfortunate that responsible bodies of journalists, after the initial hue and cry, seem to have forgotten Gauri Lankesh and what her death means for the freedom of the press.