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'The greatest damage to Indian journalism and democracy'

September 07, 2017 08:14 IST

'Though we will raise our voices repeatedly, though we will not keep silent, this is a clear threat to us. What happened to Gauri Lankesh could happen to any of us.'
Journalist and activist Shashidhar Hemmady on the shock of the cold-blooded murder of his friend.

Gauri lankesh murder

IMAGE: 'Had Professor M M Kalburgi's murderers been caught, this incident would not have happened in Karnataka,' says Shashidhar Hemmady.
Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo

 

When her father P Lankesh died, Gauri Lankesh came to Bangalore. She took charge of her father's magazine Lankesh Patrike and started her own magazine, the Gauri Lankesh Patrike.

The first time I met her was later that year at an event she organised to celebrate her father's birth anniversary; it later became an annual event.

I have known her since then.

We also worked together at the Communal Harmony Forum -- which is called Komu Souharda Vedike in Kannada -- and became very close through that (our association over common causes(.

Gauri Lankesh was very active in bringing many Naxals into the mainstream, and all of them are now (gainfully involved) in social activities. She was called a Naxal sympathiser, but she was never bothered by what comments were being made.

She also wrote strongly against and fought extreme Hindutva forces. She wrote openly and fearlessly about organisations like the RSS, Hindu Jagaran Vedike, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and their leaders.

Few Indian journalists have done that. Despite running a small weekly magazine, she showed tremendous courage.

But did she worry about threats to her well being? It was we who were talking about threats to her!

She was badly abused on social media; I think few Indian ladies have been abused like she was. Even today people are celebrating on social media.

And we told her many times, 'Madam, be careful.' Instead, she used to tell me to take care because I am also a journalist and activist.

She was fearless. She would drive herself around even at night. She moved around freely and without fear despite everything.

Actually, nobody thought that this could happen to a lady (Gauri Lankesh herself had told Rediff.com, "Being a woman is my security right now").

And we never expected this kind of a barbaric incident would happen to her in Bangalore!

 

A voice of courage has been silenced.

A voice of fearlessness has been killed.

It's the greatest damage to Indian journalism and Indian democracy.

I don't know what will happen to journalism in India now. This is a big blow. We will never (fully) recover.

People like me, journalists like me, who were following Gauri Lankesh and her ideologies, are in shock. We are wondering what will happen to us.

Though we will raise our voices repeatedly, though we will not keep silent, this is a clear threat to us.

What happened to Gauri Lankesh could very well happen to any of us.

People are making these threats openly on social media, even against Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. 'She is no more and your turn is coming' -- these are the kind of messages that are being posted.

I have also faced these kind of threats -- on social media and in real life.

I was threatened many times over the phone.

Once I was even targeted on the road by goons.

Such kinds of incidents have been happening here, but we never thought it could go to such an extent.

We are definitely shaken. It's the truth and I cannot deny that.

But we will definitely carry forward what Gauri Lankesh was doing.

Last night (the night when Gauri Lankesh was killed) itself we took an oath to work to bring what is happening here to an end.

Had the Kalburgi murderers been caught, this incident would not have happened in Karnataka.

Now, they are fearlessly doing something like this, that too in Bangalore, which is the state capital; that too in a busy, crowded residential area.

If such things are to be stopped there has to be strict action from the government.

The message should be very clear to the public that the government will not tolerate this kind of thing.

Shashidhar Hemmady is the editor-in-chief of KaravaliKarnataka.com
He also wrote for Gauri Lankesh's Lankesh Patrike and she too contributed to his news portal.
Friends for several years, Hemmady and Gauri Lankesh also worked together against communal forces.
As told to Rediff.com's Monali Sarkar


Remembering Gauri Lankesh

Shashidhar Hemmady in Bengaluru