#OurGauri: Murder of Gauri Lankesh Legitimises Violence
Translated from the original Kannada by Yogesh S
January 2, 2018
Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness.
– Samuel Beckett.
It was probably last few years of the twentieth century. Lankesh introduced Gaurito B.V. Karant, who was visiting their house, saying, “This is my daughter Gauri”. When Lankesh wrote about it, that name had triggered surprise and curiosity in all of us. We are shocked to know that, the same Gauri who was still a student in high school, or probably in college back then, lived a life for forty years,before being shot dead. As a daughter of a famous literary scholar, journalist, and a writer who influenced generations to come, Gauri grew up in a patriarchal society. She had surprised us by successfully moving away from the patriarchal system by living by herself independently. It is true that we were taken aback and saddened to know that she divorced Chidanand Rajaghatta at the age of 29; but it is also true that we were extremely proud of her when we heard the way she handled it at such a young age. Gauri continued to live her life with pride and self esteem till her last day.
Gauri was well known as ‘Gauri Lankesh’ everywhere. Trained in English language journalism in Delhi, she had traveled widely, both nationally and internationally. Lankesh’s deteriorating health had left us wondering about the future of Lankesh Patrike. All of us were the opinion that he would recover soon and take over the Patrike again. It seems Gauri took over Lankesh Patrike every recently, after Lankesh’s death, butshe worked as an editor and publisher of the Patrike for seventeen years. During her initial days, she was confused, stuck in various dilemmas. It was evident that she was new to Kannada language journalism. We had no expectations from the Patrike which no longer seemed as promising as it did during Lakesh’s times. Nevertheless, it is impossible now to forget the struggle Gauri put up with to learn Kannada and write with determination, and, most importantly, the fact that she followed her father’s footsteps which were secular and casteless in nature. The first experience of her strong and determined nature was when we saw her protest against the decision to cremate Lankesh’s body according to the Lingayat rituals.
Gauri never compromised in her fight against the Sangh Parivar’s communal ideology. It is also true that her ideological explanations were sometimes abstract and complicated, making them inaccessible to many. She had no idea about Marxist and Ambedkarite ideology till 2004. Her transformation into a staunch leftist journalist is an example for all the youngsters. She called herself an “activist-journalist”. It seemed like she consciously struggled to keep both activism and journalism on the same plane. I strongly believe that she did not learn how to manage finances from her father, but she had learnt his secular and humanitarian values. Her moral values, honesty, humane and motherly love, have set an example for generations to come.
The transformation of Gauri from someone who partied hard with an “I don’t care” attitude into a firebrand journalist had scared us a bit. We are no longer in the times where one thinks it is okay to not agree with other’s ideologies; that it is okay to question them. The Fascist forces whichare against those who ask questions, killed Gauri. Gauri’s murder has disappointed us. Gauri might not be the first one to be murdered in this manner. Activists and ideologues like Safdar Hasmi, Dabholkar, Pansare, and Kalburgi were also killed in a similar way by fundamentalist forces.The question that is haunting us is not, why did they kill Gauri,but what it is that Gauri did that gother killed? It is today’s corrupt and fundamentalist society that has created the murderers of Gauri. This thought is disappointing and also scary. The very fundamentalist groups that we considered to be part of SanghParivar are functioning at the national level and causing bloodshed. The murder of Gauri Lankesh is an example of this development. Gauri is killed because we are being spectators of gender, caste, and religion-based discrimination. We might argue that, Gauri, by not accepting any form of police protection, is the main reason for the murder; but the brutality of the minds that designed her murder has shocked us. We are part of a system that kills humanitarians like Gauri; sadists who celebrate her death; and opportunists who say that Gauri shouldn’t have been involved in the issues that she did; and a system with a fascist Prime Minister like Narendra Modi who chooses to remain silent. This system generates fear.
As T.M. Krishna, a classical singer and thinker, has said, “We will not get disappointed; we will not be afraid; we shall fight back; we shall fight the fundamentalist forces; we shall speak and write firmly for the truth; we shall fight till a humane society is formed.” We need to reshape our “common sense”. We need to create a generation that rejects violence and that loves fellow human beings.This is our responsibility.
I am Gauri, We are Gauri…
It is only for those without hope that hope is given.
First published in the commemorative edition by Gauri Lankesh Patrike
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