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'Her fearlessness was inspirational'

September 05, 2017 23:23 IST

Umar Khalid remembers Gauri Lankesh, the brave journalist who was killed in cold blood on Tuesday night.

Gauri Lankesh with Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid in New Delhi

Umar Khalid, the controversial Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader, knew Gauri Lankesh, the journalist who was murdered in Bengaluru on Tuesday, September 5, night.

In this first person account -- as related to Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf -- Umar Khalid looks back at his association with Gauri Lankesh.

This news has completely shaken me.

I feel there is an attempt to terrorise us.

We saw this in the (Kannada writer M M) Kalburgi murder -- they want to send a message to all those who oppose the Hindutva regime.

They want to silence their opposition, but we will not be terrorised.

I knew Gauri for the last few months. She was a strong supporter of the JNU movement. Whenever she came to Delhi she used to meet us.

Her death is a very personal loss for me as she used to call me her son.

She used to tell me that she had three sons: Kanhaiya Kumar, me and Jignesh Mewani.

I remember she used to say that her vision for India was that of a secular, democratic, India.

She stood fearlessly for her beliefs and for the JNU movement.

Her fearlessness was inspirational.

Besides being a journalist, she was also a very humorous person. When people used to criticise her on social media she used to give them back. She would not take any nonsense on social media.

Her fearlessness was something that marked her life.

She did not tell me personally that her life was under threat, but I came to know from Kanhaiya that she was on a hit list.

After Kalburgi that they can do something like this to Gauri Lankesh in Karnataka shows the kind of impunity these murderers enjoy.

Prima facie to me, it looks like a political assassination. It is on the lines of what happened to (rationalist Dr Narendra) Dabholkar and Kalburgi.

What does her death means for India's democracy?

Someone who has been shot today is India's democracy.

She had certain views and therefore she died and democracy died with that.

She messaged me when Kanhaiya was attacked in Indore. She told me that she was worried if something happened to us she would not be able to bear it.

She always told us to travel safely and I would tell her we follow her advice.

But then who is safe today?

If you see Gauri's assassination it is an attempt to terrorise and silence people and tell them to fall in line.

If this can happen to Gauri, it can happen to anyone.

Anyone who stands for a pluralistic, secular and democratic India, this will be the end.

They killed one Gauri, but now there will be lakhs of people who will continue to do Gauri's work.

IMAGE: Gauri Lankesh, left, posted this photograph on Facebook saying, 'with two of my 'sons' kanhaiya kumar and umar khalid in delhi.'

Umar Khalid