Protest against Gauri Lankesh’s murder in Udupi
Udupi: Amidst nationwide protests against the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh at her Bengaluru residence, several organizations led by the Dalit Damanitara Horata Samiti held a candle light protest at the Martyr’s Memorial at Ajjarkad Park on September 6. Activists and leaders from the Popular Front of India (PFI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Karnataka Komu Souharada Vedike (KKSV) addressed the gathering with other local activists.
Naxal charges refuted
Along with condemnations of the murder, the speakers unanimously opposed allegations of Gauri Lankesh’s naxal support. Dr. P V Bhandary, psychiatrist and social activist set the ball rolling on the rebuttals, saying: “There are allegations of her being a naxalite. That is completely baseless. She was a humanist.” Supporting the stance, Hayavadan Moodasagri, another local activist, said, “She (Lankesh) did not support naxal violence. She chose to strive for equality.”
On social media, however, charges of Naxal sympathies ran rife.
“Climate of fear in country, secularism needed”
Drawing parallels to the murders of other rationalists namely Govind Pansare, Narendra Dabholkar and M M Kalburgi, the speakers also highlighted what they called a “climate of fear” in the country. “What our country needs is secularism. There is a climate of fear prevailing. Who is next?” asked P V Bhandary, also questioning the lack of progress in Kalburgi’s murder investigation. Phaniraj K, a professor from Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) and an activist of the KKSV, stressed that the ideologies of rationalists would never perish. “They thought if she (Lankesh) is killed, everyone will be afraid and we will lose our voice. We will never lose our voice”, he said. At the time of writing, preliminary investigations by the Bengaluru police have revealed a similarity in weaponry used in murders of other rationalists.
Police sources confirmed that although the Udupi Clock Tower was intended to be the focal point of the protest, permission was denied owing to a district level ban arising from the BJP’s ‘Mangaluru Chalo’, which has led to intensified control over public gatherings. The Udupi District Working Journalists’ Association had held a similar protest at the same location earlier in the day.
Edited by Shivani Singh
Featured Image Courtesy: Srijan Someshwar