Journalist Gauri Lankesh Fiery writer (52) was shot dead at her residence in Rajarajeshwari Nagar on Tuesday evening, reportedly by three men, just as she had got home from work.
She was the eldest daughter of noted playwright and journalist P Lankesh, and is survived by her two siblings, Kavita Lankesh and Indrajith Lankesh, both film directors.
According to sources, Gauri, who is the editor of ‘Gauri Lankesh Patrike’, Kannada tabloid, was attacked when she was about to enter her house. The assailants shot at her from point-blank range and she reportedly collapsed on the spot. Police officials revealed that three bullets hit her, two in the back, one in the chest.
Lankesh was known for her fiery speeches, largely anti-establishment, and was an ardent Leftist and Naxal sympathiser. She brokered truce between the state government and Naxals and helped several surrender before the government.
While the murder caught the literary world by surprise, it also brought to mind another cowardly assassination from two years ago – of noted writer, scholar and rationalist Prof MM Kalaburagi, who too was shot and killed at his residence in Dharawad. The government is yet to arrest Prof Kalaburgi’s murders.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said: “Gauri Lankesh‘s assassination (sic) is ghastly and a cowardly act. No one who has humanity will involve in such barbaric act. I condemn it strongly. Her assassination is a painful one. The police have been directed to investigate the case at the earliest. They have formed three teams to nab the killers. After the police submit a report, the government will take a call on further investigation.”
Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy said: “She has been shot on the lines of Prof Kalaburagi’s murder. The government had no information about threat to her life and is unaware of the reason behind the killing. City police commissioner T Suneel Kumar has also visited the spot and three teams have been formed to nab the culprits.”
Various prominent Bengalureans condemned the murder, drawing parallels with similar attacks in the past.
“She was the backbone of ‘pragatipara’ (Progressive) movement. She was well read; and was the voice of the powerless and downtrodden. This is done to curb that voice. After Kalaburagi’s murder two years ago, this has been done. I am certain this murder is because of her anti-fundamentalist views and thoughts. This is a murder of her ideals,” said writer and academician Prof Siddalingaiah.
Litterateur Prof Chandrasekhar Patil said: “She grew up with her father’s ideas. I knew her from her childhood. There is reason to believe that this murder is connected with the murders of Kalaburagi and other rationalists.”
Activist K Neela said they had warned the government that such assassinations would only increase Kalaburagi’s killers were not arrested. “Fascism and communal forces are killing those who are opposed to them. A thinker and fighter has been murdered.”
Playwright Banjagere Jayaprakash called the killers “cowards” and adding that this was an attempt to silence secular voices. “She was a brave woman,” he added.
Veteran journalist and activist, 52-year-old Gauri Lankesh, was the daughter of P Lankesh, who was the founder of the ‘Lankesh Patrike‘, a newspaper she took over in 2000 after the demise of her father.
She soon came to be known for her hard-hitting words and stance, and for the ferocity with which she defended them.
Her reports on the “wrong-doings” of SM Krishna’s right-hand man created a big brouhaha in the state.
In 2005, Gauri Lankesh started her own weekly tabloid magazine and named it Gauri Lankesh Patrike (GLP), which grew size and subscription.
In 2008, Gauri had published an article against BJP leaders Joshi, Venkatesh Murthy (former mayor), Umesh Dushi and Shivanand Bhat. The leaders had filed a criminal defamation case against her.
She was the backbone of the progressive movement. She was the voice of the powerless and downtrodden. The motive behind this murder was to curb that voice.
– Siddalingaiah, Writer and academician
We had told the government that if Kalburgi’s killers are not found, more people will lose their lives. Fascism and communal forces are killing those opposed to them.
She grew up with her father’s thoughts. I knew her since her childhood. This murder is connected to the murders of Kalburgi and other rationalists.
Whoever killed Gauri are cowards. Secular voices are being silenced. She was a brave woman.