#OurGauri: Why Did They Kill Gauri?
Translated from the original Kannada by Yogesh S
October 20, 2017
P. Lankesh introduced me to Kannada literature. I can never forget him or his family. The article titled “Nanna e jana ondagabeku” (My people should be united), written by Lankesh in the 1980s, helped me take my first step in literature. “Weren’t we always united?”; “Who were responsible for breaking this unity?” was my response to his call.
Even to this day that has been my aim. We are all citizens of this country and we are supposed to be living under the protection of the constitution; and there has to be equality. We are currently surrounded by forces that are making this impossible. Propagating hatred based on the division between superior and inferior classes, religious differences, and caste-based divisions is the goal of certain people. Gauri Lankesh challenged these people.
When I met Gauri for the first time, she was still a student and she was of my youngest son’s age. Both of them were born in 1962. I considered Gauri my daughter. She resigned from a position in media in Delhi as soon as her father passed away. Her goal was to not let Lankesh’s Patrike, his ideas and his stand to be lost and hence she relocated to Bengaluru. I was wondering what would happen to Lankesh Patrike after Lankesh’s death, but when Gauri took over the editorial responsibilities, I was relieved. I congratulated Gauri when I saw her sticking to the ideals and standards of her father in taking forward the Patrike. This Patrike had filled a lacuna of media that worked for people in Karnataka. Both father and daughter proved to people that it is possible for a Patrike to survive without any advertisement.
The constitution of this country guarantees freedom of expression to every citizen of this country. Isn’t it obvious for common people to lose their patience when the ruling government interferes in their personal lives? Such governments are subjected to criticism. No human can stand being treated like an animal. The governments are expected to bear with the criticisms and peacefully continue to govern and not kill those who ask questions to the government. No government has a right to tell its citizens to behave the way they are asked to; eat the food that they are asked to eat; and threaten them with murder if they criticised or opposed any of its decisions. The lifespan of such governments is too short.
What did Gauri do? She believed that no human being should be discriminated and every one had the right to live. She fought against injustice, cheating, and fraud. She did not stop with writing, but she also ventured into the forests to bring back the naxalites into the mainstream, and was successful in her efforts. Never did she hurt anyone, take to violence, and murder someone. It is impossible to bear the fact that there are people who can shoot and kill a woman of this kind.
I used to meet Gauri in her office sometimes when I was in Bengaluru. Whenever she was in Mangalore to be a part of the events of “Komu Sauharda Vedike” (Forum for Communal Harmony). I used to participate too. I used to meet Gauri then. Gauri used to immediately publish any article that I would submit to her. Unlike other papers, she never censored any part of my articles. I never expected any remuneration. I was surprised to receive a cheque from her last year. I had called her immediately to thank her.
I wrote very little for the Patrike a year before last year. A Muslim professor, who had come from Sagara, had suggested that I write for different tabloids as Lankesh Patrike did not have a circulation in Sagara. He also mentioned that it is important that Muslims read my articles.
I wanted Muslims to read my articles on Talaq, and with such an intention I had sent a few articles to a daily newspaper. I understood that the communal forces would not let the circulation of Lankesh Patrike go on.
We do not get Gauri Lankesh Patrike even here in Mangalore. The communal forces had been trying their best to avoid the spread of Gauri’s ideology since a very long time. These efforts by them were unsuccessful and this made them shoot and kill her. It is impossible to kill her ideology.
All that I can say for now is that we mourn along with her mother Indira Lankesh and her siblings.
First published in the commemorative edition by Gauri Lankesh Patrike
Donate to the Indian Writers' Forum, a public trust that belongs to all of us.