Gauri Lankesh Murder: People Protest in Bengaluru
Responding to a spontaneous call for a citizen’s protest, hundreds gathered at Bengaluru’s Town hall from 10am today morning to register their outrage against last night’s shooting of Gauri Lankesh, journalist and well known activist.
While the protest was not called under any organisational banner, representatives of social movements, political parties, dalit groups, peasant associations and women’s organisations participated in large numbers. Intellectuals, artists and film personalities also joined, holding placards that said ‘I am also Gauri’.
Addressing the gathering, noted film director and writer Baraguru Ramachandrappa said, ‘First they try to silence your pen, then your tongue, then they ostracise you and if all of that does not work – they just kill you – like they did to Gauri last night’. Ramachandrappa underlined that the anguish that is felt today in Karnataka and other parts of India must be channelled into a progressive movement to defeat divisive forces. That would be a fitting tribute to Gauri and several others including Kalburgi, Pansare and Dabholkar who have lost their lives.
Dr H S Anupama and Basavaraj Sulibavi spoke to Indian Cultural Forum, and recollected their association with Gauri. Anupama said “akka akkane” (Sister is sister). Speaking of Gauri’s role in mobilisation against communal forces in the state, Anupama noted that Gauri strived hard to bring all the dissenting voices in the states together as she believed that it's the only way to fight the forces that they were against. Basavraj Sulibavi also remembered her as a “fearless voice” of Karnataka.
K Neela from the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) said that Lankesh has been targeted for some time now by the right wing in Karnataka. ‘It is a tragic irony that Gauri who was here with us at the town hall to protest the writer Kalburgi’s killing in 2015 and the beef ban is now the victim and we are here at the same place remembering her life and activism’, she said.
Senior leader from the Communist Party of India –Marxist (CPM) GN Nagraj hinted at the reasons for the targeted killing. In the recent past, Lankesh has been actively involved in a citizen’s movement to ensure the secular traditions of the Baba Budan shrine which is popular amongst both Hindus and Muslims. Lankesh was vocally opposed to the attempted ‘saffronisation’ of the shrine by right wing religious groups. Nagraj also called upon the gathering to go beyond shock and anguish and see Lankesh’s death as part of a systemic attack on the secular and democratic fabric of Karnataka. ‘Gauri was killed in cold blood because of what she stood for – a secular democratic socialist vision of Karnataka and India’, he added.
Speakers called upon the journalist community to stand up for free speech and the right to dissent instead of becoming lapdogs of the Government.
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