A question is boggling my mind again and again. Let me tell you honestly that I had not heard about Gauri Lankesh earlier nor was being aware of her popularity as an anti communalist journalist and a trenchant opponent of fundamentalist fanatics. What makes me disturbed is the fact as to how come in a democratic country anyone can kill a women journalist in a cold blood for being outspoken and crusader against orthodox conventions and religious fanaticism.
According to the available statistics of,”India Spend,” seventy journalists have been killed from 1992 to 2016 and more than 140 physically thrashed or attacked in a two years’ time till 2015. Just two days after Gauri Lankesh’s gruesome murder and national outrage a journalist in Bihar’s Arwal district was shot at by two motorcycle borne criminals, injuring him grievously, who also looted him of Rupees one lakh in cash which he had withdrawn from the bank at that point of time. In an infamous Vyapan scam of Madhya Pradesh last year, a journalist of a leading news channel was also killed clandestinely while he was investigating the story of this multi-crore scam. Rajiv Ranjan, a brave, fearless and courageous journalist who worked for a leading Hindi daily of Bihar was also hacked to death while he exposed the mafia don n politician of Bihar Shahabbudin, now in Tihar Jail. Gauri’ s diabolical murder also reminds me of the brutal lynching of Umesh Dobhal, a popular journalist of Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand during the eighties, who was the victim of the highly influential liquor mafia, operating in Garhwal, Uttarakhand during the eighties. Umesh Dobhal worked for Amar Ujala as its Garhwal based special correspondent then and exposed the liquor mafia by exposing their illegal acts and scandals.
There was tremendous protest all around and the culprits were brought to justice by the CBI, though they got killed later on in a gang shoot out. But there is a difference between the cold blooded murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh and majority of the journalists killed in their line of duty. While the killers of the journalists are all criminals but the reason for the killing seems to be different. While journalists like Rajiv Ranjan and Umesh Dobhal became the victims of hard core criminals for exposing their ill designs and criminal acts, progressive journalists like Gauri Lankesh, writers, thinkers like Dabolkar, Kulbargi, Pansare, and others were hacked to death because of their being the victim of fundamentalist fanaticism, religious chauvinists, and bigots. Gauri Lankesh was the relentless fighter and a trenchant and vociferous opponent of superstitious beliefs, conventions, fundamentalist fanatics and blind propagators of communal flare-ups in the society and had been exposing them through her articles, writings, and news reports thus having become the KIRKIRI in the eyes of the powers that be, and those horribly provoking, aiding and abetting these divisive and reactionary forces n tendencies.
The entire media fraternity, the intellectual community, the women and the commoners of the country came forward in large numbers to protest and the print, as well as electronic media too, have contributed tremendously by covering her despicable murder. This undisputed unity has compelled the state and central governments to concentrate their best efforts to nail the culprits who are unfortunately still at large. The murder of Gauri has sent shock waves in the entire journalistic fraternity of the country, particularly for those who expose the ill conceived designs and notions of the criminals, mafias, and politicians who are clandestinely in collaboration with these elements. In the despicable murder of trenchant opposer of fundamentalism, communalists, religious fanatics, and bigotry while the progressive society has lost a valiant ideological fighter those on the path of following the ideals of Gauri Lankesh and the likes would have to be more careful of their safety and security.
There was a time, a decade ago when journalists had full guarantee of their lives’ safety and security despite their being extremely outspoken, anti establishment and against the political and principled ideology of their opponents but in a decade or so physical attacks on journalists have increased manifold and if the latest statistics of India Spend and the barbaric murder of woman journalist Gauri Lankesh is taken into consideration, it seems that free speech and press freedom in India is terrible and shockingly at stake and vocal and outspoken journalists’ life is at God’s mercy. God save the humanity.
SUNIL NEGI (PRESIDENT, UTTARAKHAND JOURNALISTS FORUM)