What can stop a mind which is devoid of fear? A mind which speaks the truth and a pen which nibs down the truth?

Three bullets which took the life of Gauri Lankesh try to tell us that they can do the same, they can even silence free voices. But the outrage afterwards – protests across the country and newspaper editorials – speaks of another story, which is the one I choose to believe.

Gauri Lankesh was a fearless journalist who opposed the communal and totalitarian politics of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) and its twisted interpretations of Hinduism. She stood against the caste system, inequality, and gender discrimination. She was one of the most prominent free voices which criticised the government openly and fiercely, without any fear. She inherited a legacy of thought from her father which advocated giving a voice to the downtrodden and the oppressed, the majority of whose plight doesn’t reach the power corridors of the establishment.

In her life, she was a living example of a revolutionary mind. In a patriarchal society where the role of women is limited to working within the walls of the house, where they are not allowed to dream big, where they are still treated like the property of men and often face sexual violence both inside as well as outside the house, she was an independent woman who fiercely lived, breathed, and wrote critically of the establishment, unfazed. At a time when speaking against the government is traded for being anti-national and the space for dissent is ever-shrinking, she refused to bow down and until her last day, advocated for granting refugee status to the Rohingya Muslims. Her killing resembles the same pattern as that of M.M. Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar, and Govind Pansare. Even after huge public outrage, the snail-paced investigation in all these cases sends a clear message from the establishment.

The onus is on you. Will you listen?

If your answer is that of the ruling side, then you stand on the same side as the internet trolls, whose values are driven and encouraged by people whose rationale equates to superior quality garbage. In this case, I can see you taking this country towards an age of “unreason”, where holding power becomes the prerequisite and the sole validating agency of truth.

If your answer is on the other side, then we all stand together in this fight for freedom of expression and protection of the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. And we all stand together to inherit the legacy of the slain journalist, who took bullets for speaking what she wanted to.


Feature Image Credits: Scroll

Srivedant Kar
[email protected]

The role of a journalist is to gather and report news. At certain times, such as the case with the recent Guwahati molestation, a reporter can be torn between his job as a broadcaster of news and his calling as a human being.

Without passing judgment on why the reporter chose to film the incident, let us think of the various situations that were presented to this journalist.

Watching a scene as horrifying as that unfold and taking no step to control the situation is akin to being a perpetrator of the crime itself. Here was a person, who stood there and watched the incident while condemning it (hopefully!) in his mind. This was a supposedly educated mob (logically linking from the fact that all were exiting from an expensive bar) who perpetrated the crime when a sole voice of reason could have stopped them.

Moving on from those who committed the crime, let us now focus on the victim. She is perhaps still caught in a state of trauma, having lost complete faith in humanity. Perhaps she wouldn’t have felt so, if someone or anyone had tried to help her. Perhaps that could once again establish her faith in life.

On the other hand, our society encourages and needs journalists who are ‘inhumane’, who choose to stand back and watch and in some cases – and record. In a nation like ours, we document more than 1 rape a day in the capital. It is so common now that it does not even warrant a mention in the front page of most leading dailies. Yet, India needs the shock-treatment in the form of a video to start a movement. There are rapes and molestations that cry themselves hoarse in search of justice and yet this girl in Guwahati, gets all the limelight. The reason being, her molestation was taped. What would have happened if the tape didn’t exist? Oh well, she would end up being just another victim of our inefficient justice system. Most of the mob would never be identified or dragged to court. So has the journalist done the girl a service here? Has he managed to ensure that the girl gets justice? Will this give her closure? A sense of peace?

Likewise, it’s believed that a journalist’s job is to be impartial and fair, which subsequently means that the journalist is to not engage in the brawl himself! And such behaviour has been rewarded too– Yazushi Nagaha won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for the photograph of an assassination, where this journalist had to move 5 feet to adjust his lens-focus, valuable time in which he easily could have intercepted the murderer.


Arnav Das
[email protected]