Skip to main content

Greatest tribute to courageous Gauri Lankesh is to ensure that the rich legacy she has left behind will never die

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
The celebrated German playwright, poet and fierce anti-Nazi critic Bertolt Brecht once wrote:
“in the dark times,
will there also be singing?
yes, there will also be singing
about the dark times”
.
***
Apt words, as we remember the celebrated journalist and human rights defender Gauri Lankesh, who was brutally gunned down exactly a week ago on the night of September 5th in Bengaluru. Her murder has resulted in an unprecedented outrage of anger, shock and sadness from concerned citizens all over the world over.
Gauri represented the very best of a free and fearless India, which respects the rights of her citizens, which celebrates pluralism and above all, defends the highest values of democracy! Gauri had the courage to take on the Sangh Parivar and all communal-minded people, she abhorred the caste system, she fought for the emancipation of women, she took up cudgels for the poor and marginalized and she was a relentless crusader for the freedom of speech and expression! She spared none, when injustice was the issue!
The bullets of the assassins that fateful night carried some clear messages: that it is they who ‘apparently’ control the destiny of the nation; that the likes of Gauri, had no place in their scheme of things, that they brook no dissent, that they are cloaked with immunity and can obviously get away with murder.
The murder of Gauri provides other insights into her assassins and the powers behind them too; these include:
  • they are spineless cowards; masked in anonymity, they gunned down an unarmed defenseless woman they are violent; they have the muscle, the money and the clout to do away with violently with anyone who does not subscribe to their fascist agenda. ‘Ahimsa’ obviously means nothing to them 
  • they lack the intelligence, the conviction and the staying power to debate or write objectively on critical issues plaguing the country and our people today. Gauri consistently wrote and spoke about these issues
  • they are afraid of the Truth; when courageous and upright journalists like Gauri expose their evil deeds and other nefarious activities, they are just unable to accept them, leave alone swallow the facts 
  • they are adept in defocusing and divisiveness; Gauri’s estranged brother conveniently speaks about ‘Naxalite’ involvement. Some TV channels with their stooge anchors vomit the same possibility The Central Government in a manipulative manner asks the State Government as to why Gauri was not given protection from the Naxalites! 
  • they are good in sweeping other issues under the carpet. Gauri’s chilling murder is naturally headlines; but at the same time other major issues are quickly turned from the pages of people’s memories like the deaths of children in UP, the official report of the fiasco of demonetization, the institutionalization of corruption, the thousands affected by floods in several parts of the country and the official inability and apathy to respond to those affected, the crimes of ‘godmen’ against women like the Dera Chief and Asaram Bapu, the mob lynching of people; the list is endless
  • they do not care about the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution of India; for them, journalists who speak truth to power, human rights defenders, right to information activists and for that matter, any one from civil society who dissents, is termed as ‘anti-national’; and needs to be done away with. The trolling and the venom spewed on Gauri in social media by the ‘bhakts’ of PM Modi is a clear indication that freedom of speech and expression is not something that they cherish. Gauri believed in the Constitution and passionately defended the rights of citizens until the very end! 
The above are just some ways fascist forces in India operate today. There is no denying the fact that the cold-blooded, pre-meditated murder of Gauri has political patronage at the highest level. All this has been witnessed before, in the Gujarat Carnage of 2002; the ‘fake encounters’ which followed; in the gruesome killings of rationalists and intellectuals like Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi; in the murders of several other journalists, human rights and RTI activists all over the country.
That there is an overwhelming outrage to Gauri’s murder from several sections of society, speaks volumes that all is still not lost for the country. Gauri’s death has also brought together women and men from all walks of life in a show of strength and unity against the emerging fascist forces. Rallies, demonstrations and public meetings have been held in practically every major city and town. Her murder has found significant space in some of the most respected newspapers and magazines in India and abroad. On September 12th, more than 50,000 people gathered in Bangalore in a rally to protest the killing of Gauri.Shouts of “Gauri Lankesh amar rahe!”(Long Live Gauri!) rent the air.
This visible and vocal unity must continue. Many people are convinced that though they ‘killed’ her, Gauri’s spirit will never die! The greatest tribute one can then pay to this courageous woman is to ensure that the rich legacy she has left behind will never die; that all will be done to protect the democratic and pluralistic fabric of our great country! Above all, to be reminded of the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, who during the Nazi Regime wrote:
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me”.

LONG LIVE GAURI!
---
*Indian human rights activist, currently based in Beirut

Comments

TRENDING

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Cyrus Mistry, PM Modi’s brother: What do these accidents have in common? Merc!

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2022, in an accident at Palghar near Mumbai, Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, died in a road accident . On December 28, 2022, a road accident in Mysore left one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers injured. What is common in these accidents? The car that crashed into the divider on the road, in both these cases, was manufactured by “prestigious” German manufacturer Mercedes Benz. One former dealer of Mercedes Benz cars in India has been raising issues of the threat to the lives of those riding these cars for many years now. Cama Motors, among the oldest dealers of foreign cars, having started business in pre-independence India, noted over 10 years ago that Mercedes Benz was indulging in corrupt practices . The cars are currently priced between Rs 41 lakh and Rs 2.92 crore in India; few people realize that the pride of owning a Merc comes at considerable risk to life. Cama Motors carefully documented several of the flaws on a websi

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

Bangladesh 'rights violations': US softens stance, fears increased clout of China, India

By Tilottama Rani Charulata*  In December 2021, in addition to the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the United States imposed sanctions on seven former and current officers of the force, alleging serious human rights violations. Benazir Ahmed and former RAB-7 commander Miftah Uddin Ahmed were banned from entering the US. RAB as an institution was also canceled the support it was getting from the US and its allies. At the same time, those under the ban have been notified of confiscation of assets held abroad. The anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit of the Bangladesh Police, RAB is the elite force consisting of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Police, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force, Border Guard Bangladesh, Bangladesh Civil Service and Bangladesh Ansar, and has been criticized by rights groups for its use of extrajudicial killings and is accused of forced disappearances. The government of Bangladesh has been insisting about lifting the ban on RAB, but the US had till recen