Social activist Gauri Lankesh, was shot dead outside her Bengaluru home on Tuesday evening. She was the editor of a Kannada weekly tabloid and an outspoken critic of right-wing Hindutva politics. The daughter of one of Kannada’s greatest writers, she lived up to the legacy of P Lankesh, who was all rolled into one:
- A novelist
- A playwright
- A poet
- A journalist
India facing an insurmountable loss to journalism, she was good in both the languages both in Kannada and in English, the void that Gauri Lankesh left behind will be very hard to face as no one can fill the tap of her.
In the year 2000 P Lankesh, passed away after that Lankesh decided to move quit her job as a journalist in Delhi and move back to Bangalore to carry on the work of her father. Till the time she started writing in English; coming back to Lankesh Patrike was the first time she would be working in Kannada.He had edited the journal Lankesh Patrike for 20 years from 1980 until his death.
She gave the journal a more sharply political turn as she learnt quickly, and that reflecting her own spirit of journalism and activism. She is the cult following that the journal had inspired, after his father passed away she took the responsibility seriously. She ran a small operation, and even did a lot of the copy editing and proofreading required for the journal. She was self satisfied by the fact that the journal had never run a single advertisement and ran entirely on the money raised by willing readers who paid for the weekly journal. I had even suggested to her that she should approach some of the foundations that are now willing to fund independent journalism, but she never felt inclined to do so.
Lankesh Patrike has always been an open and frank platform for criticism, and was known for:
- Its excellent writing
- fearlessly taking on corrupt politicians (across the political divide)
- The mining lobby
- The Hindutva lobby – no one was spared
She took over the running of the journal the Hindu right wing was just rising in Karnataka, and at the same time she took on that faction boldly.
She fought and won the case against a powerful Sangh Parivar lobby which was for the syncretic traditions of the Bababudangiri shrine which also has the Dattatreya temple at Chickmagalur. More over she was involved in several court cases, for which she travelled across the taluks of Karnataka – her activism was as much on the ground as it was within the pages of her journal.
In Karnataka she even had earned the trust of some of the Naxal ideologues, by facilitating the surrender of some of them. She was very musch sympathic, she lay with those who worked for unity and communal harmony, and those who have always got the short end of the stick.
As a member of the Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike (Karnataka Forum for Communal Harmony), and a free thinking liberal, her loss is as much a personal one as a public one to the country and to Kannada media. She even worked with Dalit and women activists, and those who promoted the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity. It is very much difficult for the people over there to think of her without remembering her warmth and large-hearted personality.
- She was a wonderful host, and sensitive thinker and a rational thinker.
- She was very much comfortable with all, people from small towns as she was with big city journalists.
- She was firm with a natural journalist, with a constantly curious mind and a strong moral compass.
She reflected a positive surrounding with her strong ethic work, and she knew in her heart that she was on the side of justice. Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said it is a special investigation team to probe the murder that triggered nationwide outrage. Her brutal murder is that much harder to bear because of what she meant to me personally, and for the loss to critical journalism in India.
Around 8 pm at her residence in Bengaluru’s (Rajarajeshwari Nagar), an unidentified suspects fired seven bullets into Lankesh’s body.
The Congress leader was quoted as saying by ANI “She met me recently but never spoke about any threats,” From the Karnataka government, Home minister Rajnath Singh has told the home secretary to seek a report on Lankesh’s murder.