Rajdeep Sardesai remarked quite correctly in his recent tweet, that “on street, it is the gun that silences dissent”, for it is doubtful whether the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh is a display of strength or a message of warning. The ruthlessness of the crime and the reasons for it is quite obvious, yet it is predictable that the case will go cold soon.
Gauri Lankesh, 55, was a senior journalist turned activist, who was the editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada tabloid which was dedicated to social causes and featured no advertisements. She was known for her fearless and blunt take on many issues plaguing the society like the prevalent communal politics, caste system, and was a consistent critic of the Right Wing and Sangh Parivar Activism in the state. It is sad how her brave voice and honest journalism is being repaid with a cold-blooded murder.
While it is still unclear how the plan was executed, neighbours reported gunshots around 8 pm at her Rajarajeshwari Nagar home in Bengaluru on Tuesday, 5th September. Three armed assailants on a motorbike shot 7 bullets at her, out of which 3 found the target on her head, neck and chest while 4 others were sprayed on the walls. When the neighbours arrived, they saw Lankesh’s body sprawled in a pool of blood near her house entrance, while the assailants had fled the scene.
It is horrifying how easy it was for a noted public figure like Gauri Lankesh to be murdered, and how so many others could be on the list of these killers. How scary that speaking one’s mind out might result in an important man being offended, and that might be the end of one’s life.
It isn’t the first time that a critic of the extremists has been silenced with gunshots. The deaths of MM Kalburgi in Dharwad, Karnataka and those of Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare in Maharashtra, for being equally vocal about their distaste for the Right Wing and Sangh politics and their activities, in their speeches and writings, has proved how unsafe the nation is for those who decide to challenge the ones wielding authority.
It is a dangerous time to be a torchbearer of truth, of being a person with differing opinions and voicing it against the majority in power. However, it is commendable how even in the face of threats, maligning, defamation and even conviction or arrest, these people do not
refrain from their fights and stand up for their beliefs- even if the price they pay is their deaths.
Gauri Lankesh was a figure to look up to, because of her strength and courage in speaking up about what mattered. It is saddening that the democracy that we live in, cannot handle a lone journalist asking them relevant questions.
It is even more unfortunate that the reply came in the form of 3 armed cowardly servants of nameless bosses, under their righteous masks.
Is this really what democracy is?