Gauri Lankesh murder: Besides anger, grief, nationwide call for justice


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Social workers, journalists, activists, scientists, film and theatre actors and others came together to assert their “right to dissent” a day after journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh’s murder.

CM joins protest over Gauri Lankesh’s murder

Kolkata: Condemning the murder of Gauri Lankesh, journalists participated in a candlelight vigil organised by Kolkata Press Club on Wednesday evening. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was present at the event to express solidarity. The protest march began at Press Club and ended near the Gandhi statue at Mayo Road-Dufferin Road crossing. Mamata did not say anything while participating in the march.

Press Club members claimed this was the first time the CM had taken part in such a march. “Yesterday’s incident marked a black spot in our democracy. The entire media fraternity is angry…. We urge the Central government to ensure security to journalists and make sure such incidents are not repeated. Whoever is responsible should be arrested and punished,” Press Club secretary Kingsuk Pramanik said.

Calcutta Journalist Club members also took part in the march.

Azaadi — to read, write, eat ‘what we want’

Mumbai: Social workers, journalists, activists, scientists, film and theatre actors and others came together to assert their “right to dissent” a day after journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh’s murder, as slogans of “azaadi (freedom)” filled the air of the amphitheatre on Carter Road, in Bandra. Protesters demanded justice for Lankesh and chanted, “Humko chahiye azaadi, likhne ki azaadi, padhne ki azaadi, khaane ki azaadi (we want freedom, freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to eat [whatever we want to].” “Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and now Gauri Lankesh. There’s a trend emerging from these murders — of not just silencing but killing people who speak their mind,” said actor Shabana Azmi, holding a placard with lines from her father Kaifi Azmi’s poem: “Hothon ko seeke dekhiye pachhtayenge aap, hungaame jaag uthate hain aksar ghutan ke baad (you will regret if you try to sew our mouth; a rebellion usually follows submission).”

“Everybody has the right and responsibility to question the status quo and the government,” said a scientist, who refused to be identified. Actor Nandita Das said, “Today everyone wants to play safe. No one wants to speak up. Today it was Gauri, tomorrow it could be any of us.”

Journalists and citizens from all over the city came to Mumbai Press Club to hold a candlelight vigil in the evening. Natasha Maheshwari, 19, a student of Maharashtra National Law University, said, “In fact, we could be arrested right here under Section 141 (unlawful assembly). It’s my duty as a student and an Indian to ensure that these rights are protected.”

In Kerala, Left and Cong versus BJP

Thiruvananthapuram: Political leaders, writers and cultural outfits in Kerala condemned the murder of Gauri Lankesh in protest meetings held at many places across Kerala. In Kochi, artists held a meeting to condemn it; in Thiruvananthapuram, journalists took out a protest march. Calling the murder shocking, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “She was killed at a time progressive and secular forces were gaining ground in Karnataka.” Congress state president M M Hassan said the murder is a transgression into the freedom of press. BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan criticised the Left and the Congress for trying to capitalise the situation. “The culprits should be booked but the incident shows the Congress government in Karnataka is inefficient,” he said.

Reminder from Guwahati : 32 scribes killed in Assam

Guwahati: Condemning the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru on Tuesday evening, Journalists’ Forum of Assam (JFA) held a meeting on Wednesday and also reiterated its demand for a special protection law for journalists across the country. “Gauri Lankesh’s murder is a another attempt to silence the media. It is dangerous for democracy and free voice,” JFA president Rupam Barua said.

JFA secretary Nava Thakuria said incidents of threats and assault on journalists have been on the rise across the country. “India stands at an awkward position on the journalist-murder index in 2017. Six journalists have been murdered in the last nine months,” Thakuria said, adding that 32 journalists have been killed in Assam in the last three decades.

In the Northeast, Manipur has seen killing of at least three journalists since the first incident in 1999, when Lalruhlu, editor of ‘Shan’, a Hmar-language newspaper, was gunned down near state capital Imphal.

Centre urged to curb ‘rising Hindutva gangs’

Hyderabad: Condemning Gauri Lankesh’s murder by raising slogans at a meeting at Press Club, Hyderabad mediapersons today took out a march until Khairatabad circle, carrying “I am also Gauri” placards. The Hyderabad Working Journalists’ Union organised another protest meeting at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, and the Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (CLMC) urged the Central government, among others, to “perform its solemn duty and control and curb rising Hindutva fascist gangs across the country”.

Revolutionary writer Vara Vara Rao, under the aegis of Virasam Revolutionary Writers Collective, said that Gauri Lankesh had exposed many cases of violence committed by right-wing activists. “She has been killed by those who opposed her,’’ Rao said. Calling Lankesh a “close friend” who had written many articles against his arrest decades ago, balladeer Gaddar (Gummadi Vithal Rao) said, “She was killed for her powerful writing. She was the voice of the people who were oppressed politically, and became target of right-wing forces for opposing them.”

Lateef Khan, general secretary of CLMC, said, “Assassinating a dissenting voice is the most cowardly act, which can be done (only) by cowards who breed on fear.” The committee also urged the Centre to not use “Hindutva fascist gangs…as a political tool to silence democratic voices”.

Scribes, civil society come together

Panaji: Standing beneath the martyr’s memorial at Azad Maidan, Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ) and members of the civil society today condemned the “cold-blooded murder” of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh. “Democracy allows one the most fundamental right: the right to ask questions. When the voice of dissent is attacked, then all of us should come together to thwart such forces,” GUJ president Kishor Naik Gaonkar said.

Goa, with its strong background of activism, also saw activists supporting different causes come together to condemn the murder. Referring to the recent release of Col Prasad Purohit, accused in Malegaon blast and hinting at what has been dubbed “Hindu terror”, environmentalist Ramesh Gauns said, “There is a pattern we are noticing now. They have released Purohit; there is talk on Sadhvi Pragya…. Then there are these cases of rationalists’ deaths that have not seen any prosecution. The message is strong, and one needs to read it. We need to curtail the environment which allows such events to take shape. The silence can cost us all – some day soon.” Among young speakers and writers who spoke at the protest, journalist Gerard D Souza said, “When you use bullets against free speech, we begin to question ourselves. This is outrageous.”

‘Won’t allow India to be Hindu rashtra’

Pune: About 100 people, including those from organisations such as Lokayat and the Peoples Union of Civil Liberties, and students from Pune University turned up for an impromptu protest against the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. Many were carrying banners with the message, “I am Gauri Lankesh.”

Among those in the protest was S P Shukla, retired IAS officer, a former Union Finance Secretary and ex-member of Planning Commission. “The time has come for each one of us to call a spade a spade. We will not allow our country to become a Hindu rashtra,” Shukla said. Vidya Bal, a prominent social activist, said, “Dabholkar, Kalburgi, and Pansare were murdered. Now there is no hesitation in killing even women activists.”

‘Attack on freedom of expression’

Journalists, civil society and political activists held separate protest events in Bhopal on Wednesday to condemn Gauri Lankesh’s murder. Senior journalists called the murder an attack on freedom of expression and demanded a high-level probe to find out the killers. During one protest, photographers observed silence by holding their cameras down.

Left parties and the Aam Aadmi Party held separate events and demanded arrest of the accused. AAP leaders tied themselves in iron chains and called the murder an attack on freedom of press.

Online Source The Indian Express

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