Ravi Kiran Jain, President
Dr. V. Suresh, General Secretary
People’s Union for Civil Liberties, PUCL) strongly condemns the dastardly assassination of Gauri Lankesh, well known journalist and activist, outside her house in Bengaluru in the evening of 5th September, 2017 by a 4 member hit squad. PUCL is deeply grieved over the fact that by the shameful killing of Gauri, not just Karnataka, but the entire country, has lost a fearless and indomitable opponent of divisive and hate filled majoritarian politics of the Hindutva groups, a fighter for fairness and social justice for all marginalised groups, a rare media professional who saw her professional expertise as not keeping distance from `walking the talk’ in terms of her political and social values and her expressed stand and commitments.
As a crusader for communal harmony, peaceful coexistence and respect for diversity, Gauri was active in the Babubudangiri issue opposing the Hindutva forces seeking to engineer a communal divide between Muslims and Hindus. As a fearless critic of communal politics and opportunism of ruling political elites dividing the country through majoritarian politics, she showed through personal example that the current challenges before the country needs to be addressed both in the arena of activist or field politics as also in the domain of knowledge, thought and ideology. Amongst her last actions was to oppose the demonization of the Rohingya Muslims who sought refuge in India from murderous Buddhist mobs in Rakhine province of Myanmar, Burma) whom the ruling BJP - Indian government wants to forcible repatriate now. Equally importantly was her call to all social and political groups who are opposed to majoritarian, fascist politics to sink differences and work together so as to safeguard democracy, secular values and peace.
The brazen shooting down of Gauri, just outside her house, in public view, follows a pattern similar to the unsolved assassinations of Prof. Kalburgi in Karnataka and Govind Pansare and Dr. Dabholkar in Maharashtra. It appears that the ruling political parties, irrespective of which party they belong to, do not have the political will to bring the perpetrators of these cowardly killings to book.
PUCL gives a call to all political parties, particularly to the parties which are part of the ruling NDA dispensation in the Centre, to declare publicly their unequivocal condemnation of the killing of Gauri Lankesh in particular, as also their opposition to the politics of killings of all political opponents and dissenters, as being unacceptable in a democratic polity. It is important that political parties do not fan communal hatred, hate politics and intolerance as this irreparably ruptures the social fabric of our country and threatens democracy.
The Government of Karnataka should immediately form a Special Investigation Team, SIT) of select police officers of proven integrity to investigate into the killing of Gauri Lankesh so that the assassins and those forces behind them are identified and brought to book.
That the Government of Karnataka should consult the High Court of Karnataka and seek a court-monitored investigation by the SIT similar to the court monitored probes into coal scam, 2-G scam etc.
We wish to point out that only if the killers and their sponsors are speedily prosecuted, tried and convicted will ordinary citizens continue to retain any sense of confidence in the edifice of rule of law and criminal justice system.
PUCL calls upon all citizens to remain vigilant and vocally oppose from the very beginning, the politics of hate, intolerance, caste – and- communal divisions and majoritarian politics which is systematically being fanned by different political parties and which has already claimed numerous lives. The best way to pay homage to martyrs like Gauri Lankesh, as also of Prof. Kalburgi, Dr. Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare who were also martyred for their beliefs, is to continue the fight for secular values, democratic ethics and respect for social, cultural and religious diversity in India.