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Posted at: Sep 7, 2017, 12:59 AM; last updated: Sep 7, 2017, 12:59 AM (IST)

Murder of dissent

Gauri Lankesh died for free speech
Murder of dissent

Until the identity and motive of the killers of journalist Gauri Lankesh is established, it would be premature to hold any party or grouping responsible. Social media warriors are entitled to draw conclusions that suit them but the unfortunate death of the fiercely independent and outspoken journalist is certainly a calculated attack on the constitutional freedom of speech and expression. And it is but natural for all those who value the right to dissent to recall in this context the assassination of rationalist MM Kalburgi two years ago. Gauri was known to hold far left views and build peace bridges between the Maoists and the State. She treated the likes of Kanhaiya Kumar, Shehla Rashid and Jignesh Mewani as her “children”.   

Gauri Lankesh had the option to play the conformist. She, however, chose to work for the cause she felt was right. Individuals like her, maybe small in number, cannot keep silent when faced with any wrong or injustice. The countrywide outrage that her killing has evoked shows how fiercely so many from so diverse cultures and regions have stood up for her right to express her opinion. That is a sign of a vibrant democracy. By sticking to her views in the face of death threats and paying the ultimate price, Gauri Lankesh has set an inspirational example for other upholders of just causes. Her message is clear: stand up for what you believe in, regardless of the consequences. Her death has brought to the national centre stage issues she had lived to fight — religious fundamentalism, caste discrimination and communal politics. 

There is a choice everyone is called upon to make at some point of time: to honestly speak out what one really feels agitated about or play safe and keep one’s opinion to oneself. We as a society have to decide whether we have to allow a free run to exchange of ideas or to extremists and gun-wielding thugs. There is a growing culture of intolerance and hate. Politics of division on the basis of identity, ideology, religion and caste should not be allowed to come in the way of liberal values and individual rights and freedoms.   


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