Gauri Lankesh, the assassinated left-wing affiliated activist and journalist’s birthday falls on 29th January. On this day, let us remember this brave woman.
On 5 September 2017, Gauri Lankesh a left-wing journalist and activist was shot dead by two assassins in front of her house because of how vocal she had been while criticizing Hindutva and the new government. On the day of her birthday, let us remember Late Gauri Lankesh, an iron solid brave lady.
Gauri Lankesh was born on 29 January 1962 to a Kannada family. Her father P. Lankesh was a poet and journalist who operated the Kannada language weekly ‘Lankesh Patrike’.
Gauri Lankesh started her career as a journalist with The Times of India after which she moved to Delhi with her husband Chidanand Rajghatta. Their marriage was short-lived; they got divorced after five years of marriage. Gauri returned to Bangalore and worked for Sunday magazine for a while. It was after her father’s death that Gauri Lankesh moved to Lankesh Patrike. Initially, Gauri and her siblings had decided to close the weekly, however later, Gauri and her brother Indrajith decided to continue operating the weekly together.
In 2002, Gauri Lankesh protested the Hindu right’s attempt to claim that the 11th-century Sufi shrine of Baba Budan Giri, where both Hindus and Muslims had worshiped for centuries, belonged exclusively to Hindus. According to her former husband she ‘courted arrest’ during that period.
Gauri left Lankesh Patrike in 2005 because of the ideological differences she had with her brother. Gauri was sensitive towards Naxalites in her articles. Instead of deprecating the Naxalites, she attempted to get the government into speaking with them. Gauri was accused to be sympathetic towards Naxalites and Gauri and Indrajith’s relationship fell through in this process. Gauri left Lankesh Patrike and started her own weekly ‘Gauri Lankesh Patrike’. This change gave her the freedom to write her own ideas openly without restrictions.
Gauri was known for advocating the freedom of the press and was openly critical about the cast system. She was against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In November 2014, the Congress-led Karnataka government appointed Gauri Lankesh as a member of a committee that was formed for convincing the Naxalites to give up violence and surrender. She was kept in the position despite the protests from some of the BJP leaders.
On 5 September 2017, Gauri Lankesh was shot dead by two helmet-clad men in motorcycles while she returned from work and was about to open the front door of her house. She was vocal about her issues with Hindutva which was the reason that led to this brutal assassination. Her murder was similar to that of M. M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar. All of them were assassinated for speaking against Hindutva.
Her body was kept for a few hours at Ravindra Kalakshetra for the public to pay tribute. On 6th September Gauri was given a state funeral with a gun salute. After Gauri’s death, there was nationwide outrage. Protests were held in several cities across the country. The then Congress government in Karnataka had established a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the murder. In 2018, Gauri Lankesh’s assassinators were arrested. Their trails are still in progress.
Gauri Lankesh is seen as a prominent figure for people who are protesting against the rightward shift in governance. In 2021, Burnaby, a Canadian city decided to celebrate Gauri Lankesh Day on September 5 to commemorate her death anniversary.
Written by Poorna Krishnan