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Gauri Lankesh solidarity protest sees massive turnout
Yechury, Sainath, Medha Patkar participate in protest
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BENGALURU, Sep 12 (Agencies): Progressive activists, writers, thinkers and hundreds of citizens came together on Tuesday to protest the recent murder of senior journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh by some unknown assailants.

Sporting black badges that read - #IAmGauri - the protesters took out a rally from the Sangolli Rayanna Railway Station to the Central College grounds, where a protest meeting was held. Over 300 policemen were deployed in and around the Central College.

Choking with emotion, Gauri’s mother Indira Lankesh said: “She [Gauri] fought with every fibre of her body. For me, all of you are my Gauris.”

Social activist Teesta Setalvad recalled her association with Gauri. “Though we are of the same age, she called me her little sister, as I had a lot to learn from her. The only thing bearable in the death is the support that has come now. We can't let cohesion resistance go in vain,” she said.

She also said Gauri believed that the youth were the real opposition. “She had a rational outlook and believed in the freedom of questioning. No majoritarian fascist can take it away from us. We can't afford to be sectarian under individual flags. We can't let the death go in vain.”

Chandrashekar Patil, writer, read out a poem as a tribute to Gauri. “A few years ago, I was Dabholkar then, Pansare. And, two years ago, when my classmate, colleague and comrade MM. Kalburgi was assassinated, I became Kalburgi. Now, I’m Gauri,” he said.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said, “I'm here as a foot soldier of Indian democracy and idea of India. It isn't abstract. It's concrete and alive. It can coexist only if there is opportunity to discuss and debate without bullets to kill. That's the spirit to kill caste, religious minorities. The battle of ideas is the idea of India. My India doesn't remain if it is killed through bullets.” He added that the country had lost a person who disagreed verbally, who was an active participant and who never eliminated ideas.

“What has happened with Gauri is unacceptable and is not an isolated incident. We're here because we're now realising that we are in the path of a movement where those in authority and power are creating a totalitarian state. It is the antithesis of India,” he said.

While referring to the RSS and the BJP filing cases, he said that one cannot be cowed down. “Remember, Mahatma Gandhi was a victim of the Hindu Rashtra and those against diversity.”

Acclaimed Kannada writer and Dalit activist Devanur Mahadeva said that when India got Independence, there were dreams of an ideal Indian society, of how it should be in the future. “What has happened now? Our mentality is going backwards. The dream has become a nightmare. Now, the majority is ‘Indianness’. And Kalburgi, Gauri are being killed as the majority marches on.”

It is not just intellectuals, even religious heads are facing threats, claimed Shivamurthy Swamiji of Chitradurga Muruga Mutt.

Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar said that the coming together of so many voices on one stage was reason for optimism. “Those who want to crush, not just the Constitution, but aspirations of equality are in power today,” she remarked.

Members of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Karnataka Janashakthi, Aam Aadmi Party and several student groups were also part of the rally.

Those participating in the protest meet include CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, noted social activist Medha Patkar, journalists P. Sainath and Sagarika Ghose, Swaraj India leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, documentary producers Anand Patwardhan and Rakesh Sharma, and civil rights activists Teesta Setalvad, Kavitha Krishnan and Jignesh Mevani, besides film producer Prakash Rai.

The progressive forum “Gauri Lankesh Hatya Virodhi Vedike” took out the rally.

“The forum of progressive thinkers, writers, social activists, artistes and intellectuals was formed last Friday to fight against Lankesh killing and decided to hold the national-level ‘resistance convention’ here,” the forum convenor K Leela had told reporters on Monday.

The forum was expecting about 50,000 people to be a part of the event.


News Updated at : Wednesday, September 13, 2017
 
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