The murder of senior journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru on Tuesday sparked outrage among media fraternity and members of the civil society who came out in large numbers on Wednesday to register their protest against the incident.
At an event held at the Press Club of India, senior journalists said that increasingly there was an effort to stifle the voice of journalists, especially those who spoke against the ruling forces. “Gauri Lankesh was killed because she was dissenting from the prevalent ideology,” said former Hindustan Times editor and ex-parliamentarian H. K. Dua.
‘Assault on media’
Reaffirming the view that the senior journalist was killed because of the professional path she followed, Siddharth Varadarajan, the founding editor of The Wire , said: “Anyone who sees her (Gauri’s) work or notices who she was against and who was against her, would get an idea about the forces who were out to target her.”
“With the news of Gauri’s death, we also realised what this assassination means for the Indian media and democracy. The assault on her is an assault on the media. In the past we have seen attempts to muzzle the freedom of expression in Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast and so on. All of these are attempts to stifle the journalists’ right to ask questions,” added Mr. Varadarajan.
Reacting to some insensitive comments on Ms. Lankesh’s murder on social media, senior journalist Ravish Kumar said: “There is a group of people on social media which is celebrating her death without any hesitation. Surprisingly, these are the people who are followed by senior government officials, including the Prime Minister.”
“The message that is being sent through such incidents is that, this is the consequence that one will face if they dissent. We need to fight this together and this murder should not become yet another instance of an attack. It looks as if ‘ Beti Bachao Beti Padhao ’ is only limited to slogans,” said Mr. Kumar.
Urging the journalist community to unite against killers of Ms. Lankesh, journalist Barkha Dutt said, “Today if we remain silent or bicker among ourselves, we will be doing a disservice to our profession. In some ways we have failed to speak up or stand in unison against the forces. It is time that we stand with each other and for each other.”
Many senior politicians also attended the meet to express solidarity. Drawing parallels between the killings of Ms. Lankesh, M. M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar, CPI leader D. Raja said, “There is a clear pattern of right-wing fascism. They either resort to mob lynching or individual annihilation. We should send a message that these fascist elements cannot intimidate us and we will resist this.”
“We are in solidarity with the family and the journalist community. We will rise together to resist this,” said CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury.
A resolution was passed by various journalist forums, including the Editors Guild, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Association, Press Club of India and others, demanding that the government put in efforts to nab the killers of Ms. Lankesh at the earliest.