Murder of a journalist

Senior journalist and a crusader against communalism and intolerance, Gauri Lankesh was shot dead by three ‘unknown’ youths who had come in a bike and were waiting for her in front of her house at Bengaluru on Tuesday. Hers will be another name added to the long list of names of those rationalists, free-thinkers and others of similar vein who were murdered earlier like Kannada University Vice-Chancellor M. M. Kalburgi, rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and prominent Left intellectual Govind Pansare. Gauri’s was a terror killing in the true sense of the term as the purpose of the murder was to terrorize those like her who are against communalism, against the politics of polarization and for a homogenous society which accommodates people of all faiths and persuasions and ideologies. It was a message to those who dare to differ with – and openly voice their difference – with the socio-political views of those aggressively pursuing the agenda of turning India into a theocratic State.
People are familiar with Naxalite or Maoist terrorism and jihadi Islamic terrorism. But this is a new type of terrorism which is yet to be christened. And the christening will not be easy. A spade cannot always be called a spade, especially if the ‘spade-wielder’ has the power to eliminate his critic physically. The Karnataka DGP has denied he had any ‘reports’ about a perceived threat to her life. This suggests that Gauri had not formally communicated with the Karnataka police about the danger she was living in. This cannot be an excuse. It is the duty of the police and the intelligence to keep a tab on terrorists and to provide security to those citizens, irrespective of their social status, who are likely to be targets of terror attacks.
Gauri’s murder portends many such murderous attacks on others like her. Depending on the police to provide security will be too much to expect. It will also depend on the political colour of the State Government concerned. The time has come for the civil society to come forward in unequivocally condemning such heinous crimes and create a strong public opinion against those who resort to murder and mayhem to silence their critics. As far as Gauri’s murder is concerned, there should be a demand for a high-level probe into her death, for nabbing the murderers and putting them on trial. If these criminals can get away with their crime, it will expose many more rationalists and free-thinkers to similar danger.

Wednesday, 6 September, 2017