All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) strongly condemns the heinous and cold blooded murder of senior journalist and activist, Gauri Lankesh, outside her house in RR Nagar, Bengaluru, on September 5th 2017. She was shot at close range multiple times, and died instantly from the bullet wounds inflicted on her. The unidentified perpetrators of this planned shooting, who are suspected to have come on a motorbike, were able to make a quick getaway. Such a serious crime being committed in the capital city of Bengaluru is alarming and outrageous. It underscores the complete lack of safety in homes and on the streets of a city which boasts of a significant presence of women professionals. The murder must be investigated effectively and with urgency, so that the culprits are caught and punished in an exemplary manner.
AIDWA also condemns the horrendous strategy of using violence to silence critics that is being unleashed in many parts of the country. The targeted killing of Gauri Lankesh is not incidental. It is a grim indicator of the intolerance and violence that have been let loose by the increasing influence of right wing forces in the country. She has been killed precisely because she was an outspoken and fearless critic of the RSS, and other components of the hindutva brigade. As editor of the journal “ Gauri Lankesh Patrika” , and in other public forum, her trenchant criticism of the communal agenda had ruffled quite a few saffron feathers. She had been subjected to repeated taunts and threats on the social media for her views, but this could not muffle her voice. She continued with her activism on many issues, and publicly expounded an uncompromising Left and progressive stance in a growingly hostile atmosphere. She openly questioned the policies and politics of the BJP Government, despite intimidation. The motives behind the killing are a wake up call to the democratic minded sections at large- can this intimidation and annihilation of voices be allowed to succeed?
The killing bears an uncanny resemblance to the murder of rationalist thinker and writer, M.M Kalburgi in 2005, also in Karnataka. It is reminiscent of the earlier murders of Pansare and Dabholkar in Maharashtra by right wing goons. In all these cases, the guilty have not been apprehended, and the perpetrators have got away with their crime. There is no doubt that the criminals have been greatly emboldened by the success of their strategy. Hence, catching the criminals and bringing them to justice in the murder of Gauri Lankesh is of utmost importance.
Gauri Lankesh may have been physically silenced by the forces of reaction, but her voice lives on, her work inspires. The battle for democratic rights, and space for dissent will continue in her name, and in the name of others who have been targeted for upholding these constitutional rights. AIDWA calls on its units to mobilize across the country in protest against this dastardly crime. The struggle will go on till we achieve justice for Gauri Lankesh.
Malini Bhattacharya (President)
Mariam Dhawal (General Secretary)