BJP Government silent as vigilantes murder Gauri Lankesh

The New Trade Union Initiative strongly condemns the cold blooded premeditated murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. The voices of dissent of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, M M Kalburgi and now Gauri Lankesh have all been silenced.

Lankesh, editor of Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada weekly, last week, wrote on the Gorakhpur deaths criticising the UP government, against the deportation of the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, slammed demonetisation. In 2003, she opposed the Sangh Parivar’s attempts to appropriate the Sufi dargah of Hazrat Dada Hayat Khalandar in the Chikkamagaluru district, Karnataka, as a Hindu temple. She most recently vocally supported the demand of the Lingayat community declaring themselves as non-hindus. In 2008, following an article in her paper against several BJP leaders, including an MP, a defamation suit was filed against her, which she eventually lost. She has also been a vocal advocate for freedom of the press and freedom of speech. She has stood up for the rights of historically discriminated castes and communities and against the discrimination of religious minorities.

For the last three years the BJP government at the centre has sought to tell citizens what they must eat, what they must wear, who they must marry and what they can say. It has allowed vigilantes to set and enforce what they think the law should be. Leading voices of the BJP, the RSS and its organisations have turned on citizens with whom they disagree, through both silence and intense statements of hate, against citizens exercising their personal liberty as provided in our constitution. Nearly 24 hours after the killing of Gauri Lankesh apart from tweets asking for investigation into the murder not one member of the BJP government at the centre has spoken up to condemn this dastardly act of cowardice.

Most drastically this is an attack on views within society that are based on rationality and rooted in the scientific temper and especially on constitutional provisions for social justice and equality. From the assassination of M. M. Kulbargi to the cold blooded murder of Akhlaque Saifi in Dadri to now Gauri Lankesh these acts represent the attack on plurality of our society and the effort to push us towards a unidimensional society rooted in the BJP’s majoritarian ideology of Hindutva. The scaffolding of Hindutva represents a fundamental attack on political, social and economic rights in our society.

The NTUI demands:
(1) A time bound investigation into the killing of Gauri Lankesh and punishment of the guilty;
(2) A status report, within thirty days on the investigations into the killings of Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi; and
(3) The Union Government, including the Prime Minister, unequivocally and unambiguously condemn the killing of Gauri Lankesh and set how government plan to respond to hate crimes.
Hate Crimes and the attack on democratic rights, especially the freedom of speech and the right to dissent, affects every section of society. The NTUI joins with all voices that have come together in the immediate aftermath of the killing of Gauri Lankesh to fight against the right wing onslaught to defend our democratic rights.

Gautam Mody
General Secretary