The recent brutal murder left wing activist and journalist Gauri Lankesh has all the tabloids burning with just one question. Are we finally beginning to lose our morals over the right to freedom of speech in the world’s largest democracy?
The article 19 (1) a of the Constitution of India guarantees freedom of speech and expression to all its citizens. It has been hailed as one of the most prestigious of fundamental rights, the right to express one’s opinion unfettered, unhindered by fear of retribution. Freedom of speech and expression allows a citizen to articulate his views on the political and social happenings of the country and is regarded as the most basic elements of a healthy democracy. A pro-Dalit, pro-minority and anti-casteist journalist who fought for the civil right of the underprivileged and against the fascist forces of the country, such was the indomitable spirit of Gauri Lankesh we will miss.
A pro-Dalit, pro-minority, a secular voice and an anti-casteist, who fought for the civil rights of the underprivileged and raised her voice against the fascist forces of the country, undaunted by the spectre of evil looming large at her, such was the indomitable spirit of Gauri Lankesh we will miss.
She followed the legacy of her father P Lankesh also a noted Left leaning activist, playwright and journalist who started the tabloid Lankesh Patrike, keeping alive the secular and progressive streak in the family .
With a staunch faith in her communist ideologies and she was opposed to the hindutva ideologies of BJP. Her death cannot kill her ideologies.A forthright, blatant and fearless critic of social evils like casteism, gender bias and inequality, always reflected in her fiery articles and journalistic accomplishments.
We mourn this unprecedented and terrible loss of a free voice silenced at her door step by some unknown assailants who were threatened by her ideologies. Journalists like her are a priceless gift who stick to their guns in spite of all odds and are dedicated to a social cause and are not merely reduced to the mouth piece of the sensational media culture.
She run her own publication Gauri Lankesh Patrike in which she voiced her opinion on the right wing communal ideologies of BJP which perhaps embroiled her in many controversies.
She was even convicted of criminal defamation for an article she wrote against a BJP that cost her 6 months jail sentence and a fine but yet she remained committed to her work and profession and did not tumble down from the political and social pressure that warned her to recede from the good work she carried out. She had as many friends as she had enemies. We observed her as a pro-Naxalite as much as we saw the unflinching aspect of her character to uplift the underprivileged class of the society.
But the inherent question that arises when we follow such gruesome acts is that just by throttling some pro-liberal voices we cannot draw the curtains on the evil that lurks in our backyard. How long can we vilify each other in the name of religion, caste and political affiliation. Because somewhere down the lane there is a very humane cause that bind us together and India as the home to 1.3 billion people has not emerged as the largest democracy out of the blue.
It is the cradle one of the oldest and the most tolerant religions of the world-Hinduism and Buddhism is one of the most honest advocates of humanitarian values.
We as citizens of such a culturally diverse and socially aware nation should wield our fundamental rights and vehemently oppose any threats and messages over the social media which threaten our freedom of expression. We do not want any more killings of MM Kalburgis, Govind Pansares or Narendra Dabholkars to taint the sanctity of our constitutional fabric. We want India to set an example of peace and harmony and respect ideologies of every individual granted with freedom of speech. We should call for a nation with an unbiased and unhindered freedom of speech where political ideologies don’t collide with the honest perspective of any individual. The murder of Gauri Lankesh is a wakeup call for each one of us.