A week after noted journalist Gauri Lankesh was murdered outside her own home in Bengaluru, the Gauri Hathya Virodhi Vedike forum organised a national rally in Bengaluru to condemn her murder and demand for justice. The protest saw journalists, activists, writers, students and others march together in solidarity.
There were several speakers, and among them, four stood out in particular. Here’s what they said:
P Sainath, journalist
P Sainath’s thought-provoking address (above) spelled out the challenges for democratic India. “This will be a stirring chapter in the fight back against the culture of intolerance and hatred,” he began.
Sainath also broke down how the the NDA Administration is shutting down any signs of dissent: “The people you are up against, they have a thought-out plan – a clear ideology and a coherent strategy.” Arguing that different strategies are used based on which party is in power, Sainath asserted grimly, “Make no mistake about it – it’s going to happen again.”
The nature of Lankesh’s murder and the method used to kill her was simply a message for the rest, Sainath observed: “We can do anything we want, we will do it and we will keep doing it. You’re next.”
Medha Patkar, activist
Medha Patkar spoke against “all the rulers in this country who are wanting to crush the values and principles, not only those enshrined in our Constitution, but in the hearts of our hearts.” She lauded the participants of the rally, who strengthened their resolve to “have raised their voices against every kind of violence.” Her call: “We need sharper weapons of non-violent struggles by the people”
Sitaram Yechury, politician
“I am here as a foot-soldier of the Indian democracy,” began Sitaram Yechury, as he talked about “the idea of India” and said that it is not abstract, but “concrete and alive”. He emphasised the importance of the freedom to disagree, which is an unalienable right bestowed upon the Indian citizenry. “The idea of India is the battle of ideas, and if the battle of ideas is killed by bullets, then my India does not remain,” Yechury said.
Teesta Setalvad, activist
In her emotional address, Setalvad’s remembered Lankesh as “her father’s daughter, but so much more,” and went on reminiscence how the two of them danced together and fought together. “One thing that she stood for, above everything else, was a rational outlook, questioning caste and exclusion, believing that this country is the country of the ‘questioner’,” Setalvad said. “We can’t afford to be sectarian under our individual flags,” she added, and “we cannot let her go in vain.”