Around two weeks after Gauri Lankesh was gunned down at her Bengaluru residence, people from the media, activists, friends and admirers paid rich tributes to the slain journalist and activist here.
Known for her fearless attitude, Editor of weekly Kannada magazine “Gauri Lankesh Patrike”, Lankesh vehemently opposed communalism and was a staunch critic of Hindutva politics.
A special event called “Gauri Ke Naam”, organised by the Centre for Policy Analysis on Friday, was also joined by poets and musicians, among others, to pay tribute to Lankesh and her fearless journalism-activism.
An Indian Sufi ensemble based in the capital, Ruhaniyat, presented songs of peace and freedom.
One of the band members Sarim Ali expressed deep sorrow at Lankesh’s death and said: “It is completely unacceptable to suppress a voice, a voice of a person who was struggling for other people’s rights.”
“People who feel that killing her was justified are completely wrong.”
Mayank from the same band said: “It is very depressing. We are a progressive nation, but what is happening is just the opposite.”
Other performers included Saif Mehmood, Sujata, Vangish Jha, Ashok Kumar Pandey, Ravi Kant, Achyutanand Mishra, Sangwari group and Raza Haider.
Haider enthusiastically raised his voice through poetry against the various attacks on freedom in the country today.
“Gauri was a friend, an ardent activist in terms of women issues and democracy per se. She was a fierce fighter as far as democratic rights are concerned,” said Raza.
“She never backed out from anything…never said no to any campaign ever. I just wanted to pay tribute to her,” he added.
Then there was Relaa, a collective of Indian performers-turned-activists, reviving the long-forgotten tradition of protest songs in its fight against casteism, capitalism and discrimination.
“It is that time in this nation when we are told what to wear, what to eat, what to say, etc. etc. There isn’t much of freedom left with the masses to decide things for themselves,” the group manager said.
“Relaa is a cry against oppression, a cry for equality, a cry against caste atrocities, a cry for freedom,” he explained.
Indian academic and novelist Purushottam Agrawal was also present at the event.
“When someone is brutally killed, apparently for her views, it is a matter of concern for every citizen…regardless of any agreement or disagreement with her,” he said.
“It (this kind of violence) won’t end with her. Tomorrow it could be you, me or anyone else. One could be killed in the name of cow protection, Indian culture, Hindutva, Islam or whatever,” he said.
“I am here to express that this kind of madness will not be tolerated. Political violence from any quarter is to be condemned…whether it is by the right wing or the left wing,” he added.