Renowned journalist and social activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her home in Bengaluru’s Rajarajeshwari Nagar, on Tuesday evening. According to police reports, she was returning home from office between 7:45 pm and 8 pm, when three men on a motorcycle gunned her down.
The 55-year-old Lankesh was the editor of Kannada weekly tabloid ‘Gauri Lankesh Patrike’. According to police, she had just parked her car and was walking towards the main entrance of her house when at least seven rounds of fire were hurled towards her by the attackers. As she tried to save herself from the fire, three bullets hit her head, neck and chest, killing her instantly.
This brutal murder of Lankesh, who was famous for her anti-establishment stance as a journalist, ushered in memories of the murders of writer MM Kalburgi in Dharwad in 2015, Govind Pansare in Kolhapur in 2015 and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in Pune in 2013.
On being questioned, a neighbor of Lankesh told the police –
Usually, she would drive back home late at night. Today, she returned early and we heard gunshots and rushed out. For a few minutes, we could not understand what had happened. Then, we realised that Gauri had been shot and was lying in a pool of blood near the door of her house.
Her brother, Indrajit Lankesh, who was one of the first persons to arrive at the spot, said:
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I am deeply shocked. I have no clue who has done this.
However, it was the residents of the apartment complex, who alerted the police immediately after the criminal had fled. Cops from nearby stations, including Kengeri, RR Nagar, Byatarayanapura, Chandra Layout and Kamakshipalya, were rushed to the spot. Within an hour, innumerable people crowded at the spot, raising slogans against the communal elements even as the dead body of the journalist was taken for autopsy to the Victoria Hospital.
Later on Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy told reporters:
Gauri’s killing has parallels with Kalburgi’s killing. We have formed three teams to hunt the killers. She had called me last Thursday and said she wanted to meet me. She was to meet me on Monday but she never turned up. She had received no threat calls.
Gauri Lankesh was the eldest daughter of acclaimed Kannada writer-journalist P. Lankesh. She had graduated from Indian Institute of Mass Communications, New Delhi, before starting her career with Times of India. She is survived by her sister, filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh, brother filmmaker Indrajit Lankesh and mother Indira.
A noted journalist of her times, Lankesh had worked with various eminent publications before starting her own tabloid, the ‘Gauri Lankesh Patrike’, in 2005. Her outspokenness often landed her in conflict with the authorities and right-wing conservative forces. She was also convicted in a defamation case filed by BJP MP Prahlad Joshi.
Lankesh was also a forerunner for the causes of the Naxals and had been working to bring them into the mainstream, which pitched her against Hindutva forces, and the RSS.
Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps and the Press Association at Delhi have condemned the brutal killing of the journalist and will be holding a protest against Lankesh’s murder .