NEW DELHI, Sep 6: The Arunachal Press Club, Arunachal Pradesh Union of Working Journalists and Arunachal Electronic Media Association strongly condemned the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
Gauri, 55, was the editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada weekly. She was widely regarded as an independent and outspoken journalist and activist, and a fierce critic of hardline Hindu groups in Karnataka.
In a joint statement, the media bodies said that the country has lost an admirable woman scribe whose thoughts and opinions gave insight and dimension to issues that many dared not articulate.
“We strongly condemn the violent and heartless attack on journalist Gauri Lankesh,” the organizations said, adding that Lankesh was the voice of the oppressed and was known for her brave stand, honest views on issues of secularism and women’s rights.
The media bodies also extended its solidarity to the bereaved family, friends and well wishers and urged the authorities to ensure that justice is delivered.
Responding to the call of the Indian Journalists Union (IJU), thousands of journalists came out on streets across the country on Wednesday to protest against the assassination of the warrior for freedom of expression and Editor of Lankesh Patrika Gauri Lankesh.
In Hyderabad, the Telangana State Union of Working Journalists and Hyderabad of Union of Journalists held a massive protest demonstration at Babu Jagjivan Ram Statue at Basheerbagh to protest against the brutal murder of Gauri Lankesh.
Hundreds of journalists from print and electronic media also participated in the protest demonstration led by IJU in New Delhi.
Condemning the dastardly murder of Gauri Lankesh, the IJU said the murder of Lankesh was an attack on independent journalism in the country. “We hold the forces of hate responsible for the cowardly act”, the Union said and demanded stringent action against the culprits.
Protest dharnas were staged in Mumbai, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Imphal and Bangalore and other cities of the country. The protesters demanded that the Karnataka Government mount a massive manhunt to nab the killers of Lankesh and the Parliament should enact Safety of Journalists Act as recommended by the Press Council of India.
Meanwhile, the Journalists Union of Assam and Northeast India Federation of Journalists also registered protest against the brutal murder of Lankesh.
According to reports, Lankesh was stalked for days before she was shot dead by unidentified assailants at her residence on Tuesday night.
Sources reported that the nature of the crime suggests that the killers were aware of Gauri’s routine and whereabouts. The investigation so far has revealed that one of the killers was waiting for Gauri near her house and two others are suspected to have followed her home from her office.
“The miscreant who was at the house initially opened fire and was joined by the other two. A Honda Dio two-wheeler is said to have been used in the murder operation,” Bangalore Mirror reported.
The CCTV footage recovered from near her home revealed that the killers were apparently wearing helmets and black jackets and escaped after the murder.
The Amnesty International India also said that the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh by gunmen outside her residence in Bengaluru “raises alarm” about the state of freedom of expression in the country.
“Her assassination must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. The police must investigate whether she was killed because of her journalism,” Asmita Basu, Programmes Director at Amnesty International India, said.
“Critical journalists and activists have increasingly faced threats and attacks across India in recent years. State governments must act to protect those whose voices of dissent are being silenced,” Basu said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has said that there has been no conviction in any of 27 cases of journalists “murdered for their work” in India since 1992, the statement said.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi also condemned the killing of Lankesh and said it was a chilling reminder that “intolerance and bigotry is raising its ugly head in our society”.