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Brutal stamping of dissent
Gauri Lankesh's murder is an attempt to crush free speech as well as attack liberal ideas
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The brutal murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh, an obvious target for her liberal ideology, is not only an onslaught on freedom of the press, it is an attack on liberal values and secularism that she espoused. At the same time, it is another ugly attempt to silence dissent and promote a culture of intolerance by those who perpetuate hatred. Gauri Lankesh who was shot dead outside her house on Tuesday evening joins the ranks of intellectuals like MM Kalburgi, Dabholjar and Pansare, who were murdered in recent years in similar conditions and where the needle of suspicion points to Hindutva groups. Though investigations would shed light on whether this killing is linked to the previous killings, what is clear at this stage is that she has been murdered to silence her voice and for her bold views. Though known for her anti-establishment stand irrespective of which government was in power, making her tabloid a mouth-piece of the have-nots and the lesser privileged masses, in recent years, the prime focus of Lankesh's writings had been the saffron parties as she tirelessly created space for promoting secular and liberal values. The victim was known for her outspokenness, courage and fearlessness in her writings and public speaking and recently had spoken about the grave threat to right to dissent. She was critical of the empowered elite of the country who turned a blind eye as hate soaked perverse ideology of the saffron brigade continued to sanction brutal murders and marginalization of dissenters and minorities and the government, rather than cracking down on culprits. In her scathing criticism of the ruling elite, she stood tall and was seen as a threat by those who want to gag every alternative discourse in the country. She was one of the few in the country who bravely filled the vacuum created by silences and replaced it with rationality and vehement opposition to all forms of brutality. It is not only important to hunt down her killers but also to understand why she was killed.

It is no secret that with every passing day, across the country incidents like this of an intolerant culture invoked by perpetuating hatred of dissenters, liberal intellectuals, minorities of the country or Pakistan are on the rise and spreading like an unattended epidemic. By promoting such intolerance, there is an attempt to alter the very idea of India and bulldoze everybody who comes in the way of that goal. Gauri Lankesh was clearly seen as an obstacle. Her killing amid a landscape of increasing intolerance exhibited by right wing hooligans manifests a problem which is not only about a band of self styled puritanical elements threatening to demonise everything that goes against their own views and their own understanding of Indian culture. The larger problem is that the government has responded to horrifying incidents of intolerance including murders with silence or sheepish remorse, whether it is targeting of intellectuals who keep aloft the torch of freedom of expression that is essentially vital for democracy, or of hapless people bludgeoned to death as part of the beef politics. It is needless to point out that intellectuals like Gauri Lankesh spoke up for the marginalised masses bearing the brunt of hate crimes. The fragments reveal a pattern inspired by hate politics which is growing at an enormous speed unchecked, revealing that the stifling atmosphere is patronised by those who rule the country, making the air more toxic and dangerous. Gauri Lankesh murder has been condemned and protested widely but there is need to go beyond just token protests over one person. The problem of intolerance is huge and needs campaigns of greater vigour and momentum to challenge this evil that is destroying the peace of the country and the values it cherishes.

News Updated at : Thursday, September 7, 2017
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