Bengaluru pays tribute to slain journalist Gauri Lankesh

Bengaluru: Marking the first death anniversary of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh, hundreds of people in the city paid moving tributes to her, recalling her chequered life and dogged fight against injustice and inequality.

Gauri, 55, editor of Kannada weekly tabloid ‘Lankesh Patrike’, was shot dead in front of her house on September 5 night a year ago.

Thought a year-long probe into Gauri’s killing by the Karnataka’s Special Investigation Team led to the arrest of a dozen suspects, including Parushuram Wagmare, 26, who is alleged to have shot her, and his accomplices, the police are yet to confirm who was or were behind her assassination.

Scores of activists, Kannada writers, journalists, artistes, lawyers and student leaders joined Gauri’s family, including elder sister Kavitha Lankesh, in fondly remembering her and paying homage to her soul.

Among those who participated in the day-long activities were social activist Swami Agnivesh, Gujarat legislator Jignesh Mewani, former JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar, senior journalists Siddarth Varadarajan and Teesta Setalvad and multi-lingual actor Prakash Raj.

Family members of slain rationalists Govind Pansare and M.M. Kalaburgi also participated at some of the events in the city, organised by the Gauri Memorial Trust and other organisations.

The Gauri Media Trust released the first issue of her tabloid (Lankesh Patrike) in Kannada at the “Freedom of Expression Meet” in Central College, a year after its publication was suspended due to her sudden and untimely death.

A protest march was held from Gandhi statue in Cubbon Park to Raj Bhavan in the city centre, seeking justice to Gauri. Banners and posters carrying her picture and slogans “I Am Gauri” “Long Live Gauri” were carried.

Alleging that the forces that killed Mahatma Gandhi also killed Gauri, Agnivesh said her tragic death had led to the birth of thousands of Gauris across the country.

“We suspect that Hindutva forces are behind her killing as they were in the case of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi,” asserted Agnivesh.

Dabholkar was killed on August 20, 2013 at Pune, Pansare on February 20, 2015 in Mumbai and Kalburgi on August 30, 2015.

Said Kavitha: “We are living in dangerous times as the people who are opposed to fascism and authoritarianism are being arrested and jailed.”

Recalling that Gauri’s killing had changed his world view, actor Raj said narratives were being changed by the powers that be to silence the voices of dissent and fairness.

“We take our democracy for granted; often ignoring the price that people pay. Make no mistake, our democracy is alive because of the courage of people like Gauri. They chose to face death so that our democracy could live. We resolve to take your struggle forward,” tweeted former JNU student leader Kanhaiya.

Sharing a picture of him with Gauri, Mevani tweeted that the shirt he wore for the occasion was gifted by Gauri.

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan of Swaraj Abhiyan said of the killers: “They (suspects) belong to several Hindutva (organisations) who were also making bombs to blow up Ganpati Mandaps and churches and Eid gatherings. (People) who celebrated her killing are still in power.”

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister G. Parameshwara said even a year after her death, Gauri continued to live on among thousands of voices she has inspired.

“You can silence people but not ideas. My heartfelt remembrance to this brave soul,” tweeted Parameshwara, who also holds the Home portfolio.