The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) statement on the “targeted political assassination” of senior journalist, editor and activist Gauri Lankesh:
The National Alliance of People’s Movements is deeply shocked and shattered at the cowardly and cold-blooded murder of well-known journalist, editor and fearless firebrand activist, Gauri Lankesh who, time and again, locked horns with divisive, communal and casteist forces, in particular the right-wing Hindutva brigade. We have enough reason to believe that her political assassination is a direct consequence of her publicly expressed progressive positions as well as the lack of conviction of the murderers responsible for the calculated political killings of MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar, even after months and years! It is precisely this tacit and active support by the current regime in India that is further emboldening the right wing Hindutva forces to commit more brazen crimes, against progressive and people’s voices.
Gauri was widely known and loved across Karnataka and the country for her relentless writings, talks and campaigns in solidarity with the oppressed – be it dalits, adivasis, women, students, minorities etc. As one of the fiercest contemporary critics of divisive politics, she worked hard to counter the growth of Hindutva politics that created an atmosphere of fear and intolerance. Alongside, she also continued to write on and engage with various social and developmental issues and constantly raised her voice against injustices. She extended and expanded by many bounds the legacy of her father P Lankesh, an eminent journalist and a well-known writer and literary critique.
Gauri openly and publicly questioned and challenged politicians, bureaucrats, judiciary, chauvinists and stood by the oppressed. Her last post on social media on the inhuman denial of refuge to the persecuted Rohingyas by Indian government speaks of her concern and compassion for the oppressed humanity. We salute the conviction and courageous life of Gauri and commit to joins hands with all progressive forces across the country to bring justice to her, her values and intensify our struggle against the silencing of democratic and dissenting voices.
The spate of killings, threats, ban on food and personal choices, books, movies, artistic works and fast spreading atmosphere of hatred against rational, scientific and constitutional temper with tacit support from popular governments to keep their vote banks intact is shameful in a modern democracy. We are constantly being pushed in the dark ages, where rational and critical thinking is being silenced, mythologies are being promoted as science and scientific knowledge and temperament is derided. It is with this tendency to wipe out a secular and socialist outlook in the country that text books are being ‘re-written’ and new dominant Hindutva narrative is being promoted all in the name of cultural and national pride.
It is nothing but an absolute failure of Indian Government that rationalists and human rights defenders are being murdered, one after the other, by fascist forces with complete impunity. As reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 27 Indian Journalists were murdered due to their fearless independent writings between 1992 and July 2016, but the state governments failed to secure a conviction in even one of them! This is a compete shame for India where journalists, rationalists, fearless and critical voices are important for a positive and progressive change in society.
In her own words, Gauri Lankesh said “Along with that, my criticism of Hindutva politics and the caste system … makes my critics brand me as a Hindu hater. But I consider it my constitutional duty to continue – in my own little way – the struggle of Basavanna and [social reformer] Dr [Bhimrao Ramji] Ambedkar towards establishing an egalitarian society.” There is ample evidence, therefore, suggesting that this is a political assassination since Gauri’s views have not found favour with the Hindutva hardliners and goondas !
NAPM unequivocally condemns the heinous gunning down of Gauri Lankesh and deeply mourns the irreplaceable loss of an outspoken human rights activist and a voice of conscience, communal harmony and sanity. We demand the following:
Govt. of Karnataka must immediately institute an independent, high level and time bound judicial inquiry, with a Special Investigation Team to nab all those guilty of committing and conspiring this grave crime. The unlawful and terror-infusing role of groups such as the Hindu Jagarana Vedike, VHP, Bajarang dal, Srirama Sene, Sanathana Samsthe and all other affiliates of RSS must also be inquired into by this Judicial Commission and strictest action must be taken, as per law.
Taking cognizance of the common pattern in the murders of Dhabolkar, Pansare, Kalaburagi and Gauri Lankesh and assassinations carried out by a organised terror group/s which evidently holds an ideology opposed to secular, democratic and constitutional forces, Govt. of India must constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee to take stock of such groups and their political benefactors, responsible for such actions and serious erosion of constitutional values, freedoms, rights and spaces and recommend action against all those conspiring to tear the secular fabric of India as well as assassinate voice of reason and constitutional justice.
The murderers of M M Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar must also be identified and convicted at the earliest.
Even as were are aroused by the outpour of outrage across the country, we call upon media fraternity, people’s organizations and all progressive and concerned citizens to stand up and fight this cowardly act and rise up to the defence of rights, freedom and the constitutional values which are under attack today from right wing fascist forces in a consistent manner. We hope all like-minded persons and groups would to keep the spirit of Gauri Lankesh alive by questioning injustices even when it is committed by the powerful people in power.
Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA)
Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)
P.Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union-APVVU and National Centre for Labour
Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI
Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan