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Wanting to live up to the expectations of her father, she (Gauri Lankesh) decided to continue running the (Lankesh) Patrike, and once she decided that, she knew that she had a huge responsibility on her shoulders. The BJP was rising at that time and she thought that being an activist would help. She decided to become aggressive and being aggressive was to become an activist,” says Filmmaker K.M Chaitanya, who had known Gauri since he was a child.

Birth And Early Life

Gauri Lankesh was born on 29 January 1962, in a Lingayat Family. Her father, a journalist and a poet established the Kannada Language weekly tabloid called the Lankesh Patrike. Gauri began her career in journalism by working with The Times of India in Bangalore. After few years she moved to Delhi with her husband, Chidanand Rajghatta. Soon after, she moved back to Bangalore where she worked with the Sunday Magazine, as a correspondent for nine years. Her father died in the year 2000, and by that time she had spent around 16 years working in the field of Journalism.

Image Source: Scroll

Most of Lankesh’s friends, acquaintances and other people who crossed passed with her throughout her life would agree that activism was something that she inculcated very early in her life. Her friend, actor Belavadi says “In 2014, when I declared my support for Narendra Modi, she called me and screamed at me – It is the wretched Brahmin in you that has risen.” Journalist Srininvasaraju says, “Any conversation with Gauri would involve a range of emotions – she was belligerent and would open her argument in an aggressive manner, and she would suddenly shift gears and become very emotional.”

Political Views And Ideology

Talking about her political stance, Lankesh was a staunch critic of the Right-Wing politics, that subscribed to the virulent brand of Hindu nationalism called the Hindutva. She was against this ideology where, “The Hindu right was associating with lynching, riots, bomb blasts, threats of rape, and incarceration of anyone critical of its sectarian idea of  India.” She was also an open critic of the caste system in India and used to speak against this issue extensively.

Gauri Lankesh was an outspoken left-wing journalist working in an India that has become one of the world’s most dangerous countries to be a reporter.”

Gauri Lankesh was an outspoken left-wing journalist working in an India that has become one of the world’s most dangerous countries to be a reporter.”

She was widely known for writing articles that people found provocative. For instance, in 2008, she published an article in her tabloid that criticized the BJP leader Prahlad Joshi and two of his colleagues, where she suggested that the three of them had cheated a jeweler. However, contrary to what she was expecting, Prahlad Joshi resorted to constitutional means and filed a defamation suit against her. Moreover, she also used to speak on the issue of religion and specific organizations. In a speech in 2014, she stated,

What is this Hindu Religion, who is the profounder of this religion, we know the profounder of Christian religion and the holy book, we know the Mohammedan religion and also its holy book, likewise, about the Sikh religion, the Buddhism religion, Jain religion, but who is the profounder of the Hindu religion and it is also stated that this is a religion without a father and mother and it does not have a holy book? It never existed, and it was named only after the British, can it be called a religion?”

Although, she was admired and supported by people involved in progressive politics, the fact  remains that Lankesh was a dangerous threat to the Hindu Right.

Also read: Who Is Afraid Of Gauri Lankesh?

Murder Of Gauri Lankesh

On the evening of September 5th, 2017, when Lankesh was returning back home from work, she was approached by a man whose face was obscured by his helmet. As she ran towards her home, she was shot by the man and she collapsed about 10 feet away from her home. The police, security cameras and autopsy reports suggested that, two other men followed her and she was shot four times. The bullets pierced Lankesh, resulting in her death and the killers escaped the sight shortly after. According to her lawyer, as reported in the Hoot, the killing was a sinister and a pre-planned attack by “Hindu terror units.”

It is not difficult to understand why people reacted to the incident in this manner, as her struggles, her life as a journalist and her death, was connected to a larger reality – the apparent serial assassination of the critics of Hindutva. 

Her assassination made her visible everywhere as thousands of people bade a tearful farewell to her. Various protests and vigils broke throughout the country and many people took to streets carrying posters proclaiming, “I am Gauri.” Soon after her demise, her work was posthumously granted the Anna Politkovskaya Award, named in honor of a Russian Journalist who was assassinated in 2006 in Moscow.

It is not difficult to understand why people reacted to the incident in this manner, as her struggles, her life as a journalist and her death, was connected to a larger reality – the apparent serial assassination of the critics of Hindutva. Her murder was highlighted as an example of the support that the government has enabled to the attackers of the civil society, feminism and human rights.

Remembering Gauri

Walter Lippmann said that, “There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to to shame the devil.” Lankesh was doing exactly the same: challenging the rise of an unchecked right–wing Hindu nationalism. However, for her, this came at the cost of her life, because her fearless journalism was perceived as a threat.

In a conversation about caste with one of her friends, she saidYes, I am rich, I live in a big house, and I am very privileged. Come up with a better argument as to why I as a woman should not be a part of the anti-caste struggle.”

Image Source: India TV

She is a prime example of a woman, who used her privilege to support the underprivileged. Her assassination is not only reflective of the miserable state of freedom of the press in India but also brings forth the gendered implications associated with journalism in the country. In a country, where female journalists are particularly vulnerable to online harassment, abusive phone calls and death threats, almost on a daily basis, it is not difficult to understand that Lankesh might have been perceived by her killers, first, as an outspoken woman, and then, as a threat to them and their politics.

Also read: Remembering Gauri Lankesh: 8 Instances Of Her Exemplary Journalism

She will always be remembered as a courageous woman, standing up for what she believed was right and not giving up to the stereotype of being a woman journalist in this patriarchal society.


Featured Image Source: BBC

2 COMMENTS

  1. Where is it written that a religion needs to have a father and mother (oh wait no concept in most of the major religion) or a religious book? Lol, what a stupid argument and she used her privileges to support the underprivileged? Like who? The people who burn train or molest women or who gang up and take up law and order in their hands like it recently happened in Ahmedabad? All this for someone convicted to 6 months in prison for a defamation case by a court of law?! What non-sense.. Who killed her? Some Parashuram allegedly. Which ‘Hindutva’ org is he a member of? Just defaming Hindutva for the heck of it! Like do we call Kamlesh Tiwari murderer a sign of Islamic terrorism? Then, it becomes, terror has no religion and it is a hate crime only.. waah re leftist hypocrites!

  2. Where is it written that a religion needs to have a father and mother (oh wait no concept in most of the major religion) or a religious book? Lol, what a stupid argument and she used her privileges to support the underprivileged? Like who? The people who burn train or molest women or who gang up and take up law and order in their hands like it recently happened in Ahmedabad? All this for someone convicted to 6 months in prison for a defamation case by a court of law?! What non-sense.. Who killed her? Some Parashuram allegedly. Which ‘Hindutva’ org is he a member of? Just defaming Hindutva for the heck of it! Like do we call Kamlesh Tiwari murderer a sign of Islamic terrorism? Then, it becomes, terror has no religion and it is a hate crime only.. waah re leftist hypocrites!

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