Gauri Lankesh was gunned down in Bengaluru on Wednesday. Twitter, Facebook and TV erupted within minutes over the brutal, inhuman, murder. Lankesh’s politics was well-known, no surprise then that it didn’t take Lutyens’ Delhi’s news anchors and ‘which caste-art-thou’ liberals much time to blame the BJP and RSS. Their presumptive conclusions and quick closure of Lankesh’s murder was based on troll handles — some of which might not even represent any citizen of this nation!
For a moment, let us forget the glorious legacy of Lankesh — the daughter of a revolutionary poet, a fierce advocate of her own brand of politics, an erstwhile Naxal sympathiser who had helped mainstream more than a dozen Maoists et al. Let us forget that she warned of infighting among her own ideologues. Let us forget her articles against her own ideological kin.
Let us also forget that she was writing against the state government of Karnataka and was in the process of exposing industry-politics nexus in her state through her writings. Let us forget that she was being threatened. Let us forget the tweet she put out the day she was murdered. Let us forget all this because among other things she was also a hardline Hindutva critic. Let us hijack this last identity within her many identities and heat up our political bakery!
Yes, of course, Gauri Lankesh and I stand at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. So do the Sangh functionaries in Karnataka. But are we rejoicing at her murder? No. Are we supporting trolls who have been rejoicing at her death? No. Soon after news broke of her murder, I called up an RSS functionary in Karnataka and this is what he told me: “Gauriji was never supportive of the Sangh. But she helped society in her own way. We respected that. And we will continue to respect that. Despite her or anyone’s ideological affiliation, we are open to ideas that strengthen the nation, at large, and in the long run.”
So who are the vultures that are hovering around her corpse? Do they belong to just one colour of the ideological spectrum? Who are asking the right questions? And who are raising rhetorical flourish just to shield the real culprits? We need to name and shame one and all.
There are shameless violent handles on Twitter who are justifying Gauri’s death as if it is all part of an ideological war. That she had met a Frankenstein-like fate. I cringe at the thoughts of some of these self-appointed contractors of Hindu faith! I cringe at the mention of the eye-begets-eye narrative. Why is it that we cannot stand up and say united: murders are unacceptable. Period. As a Hindu woman who believes in the ideology that Gauri detested, let me categorically say it: Extremism is extremism. Murder is murder. Whatever the shade. Whatever the intent.
However, does this take away the merit of criticizing the selective outrage surrounding Gauri’s death? You may call it “whataboutery”, but I can’t help ask. Did the ‘what-caste-art-thou’ celeb anchors outrage even once on the death of Rajdeo Ranjan, who was killed by goons of Lalu Yadav’s partyman Mohammed Shahabuddin? Or Jagendra Singh, who was doing a story on the then UP Minority Affairs minister, Rammoorti Verma? Or Rajesh Verma, who was covering the Muzaffarnagar riots? Or M.V.N. Shankar, who was trying to expose the oil mafia? Or Tarun Kumar, a stringer in Odisha? Or Sai Reddy, who was killed by unidentified armed men, possibly Naxals in Bijapur? Or Ramchandra Chhatrapati in Sirsa? Or more than 40 journalists in the Northeast? And why did they not? Can we ask these questions please now?
Is it because none of these journalists wrote in English but in regional or Hindi language? Is it because none of them were as vocal against the Sangh Parivar as Gauri Lankesh was? Is it because they were less glamorous because they did not write for new propaganda foreign groups/citizens’ funded mushroom network of news-views websites? Why has there not been a swell of an uprising so far by the same select coterie? Why is some blood always a tad bit more darker for them?
How did these ‘journalists’ assume that ‘Hindu Terror groups’, as they are being referred to, killed Lankesh? What is the ulterior back channel arrangement or conversation that coaxes them to conceal that Lankesh was under threat from Naxals? Should we be hasty just as they have been and say that Gauri’s death is a carefully orchestrated mystery that surrounds the political reality of elections due in Karnataka in a few months from now? Should we say that the ruling dispensation in Karnataka and these journalists have a collusion that need expose as well?
Let us address sane straight concerns. Law and order is a state subject. Why have signature petitions not been started yet demanding Karnataka CM’s resignation? What stops them from collectively demanding accountability from the state government?
Let us ask questions. Let us demand answers. But let us do that in a tone, which is, sharp yet civil, sarcastic, if you may like, but parliamentary.
(The author is with India Foundation, views are personal)