The dastardly murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh has brought to fore several issues that continue to be a cause of immense concern and if not addressed with urgency, would wrought incalculable harm to the country and the idea of India. The ghastly crime needs universal condemnation and any attempt by bigots to celebrate the slaying, is to say the least, against both our traditions and practices. It is in no civil society that such a savage death would become the reason for jubilation. There is a decisive dividing line between the Hindu Dharma and the Hindutva inspired politics, something which needs to be comprehended by the fundamentalist bigots.

Such intolerance for an ideological adversary is unimaginable and reveals nothing else but the biased mentality of those condoning the diabolical act. The most notable quality of democracy is that it permits people to follow any kind of political doctrine and thus, to oppose it to the point of justifying the killing is clearly a reflection of fascist and jingoistic minds. The battle of ideologies should be encouraged and citizens should have the option of choosing one over the other. However, foisting one’s own notions on others is something which needs to be deplored in no uncertain terms.

Gauri Lankesh’s murder has evoked a volcanic reaction, primarily because Indians all over the country have been unable to fathom and digest the nature of this spine-chilling slaying. Yes, the Left parties, as well as the Congress, should have used restraint in pointing fingers at the right wing forces, without giving any chance to the investigating agencies to reach the appropriate conclusions. If the right wingers have appalled civil society by their responses, their political opponents too are guilty of making baseless charges. These charges would remain uncorroborated unless substantiated by police investigations.

Indeed it is true that there is a pattern in her elimination, which bears similarities with the gunning down of three other intellectuals, Govind Pansare, M.M. Kalburgi and Narendra Dabholkar. However, merely on the basis of a common modus operandi, one cannot decisively infer that the same people were behind all the four crimes. The possibility exists, yet the criminal justice system requires requisite evidence and proof. This is where caution must be exercised before accusing any group of persons of being behind Gauri’s liquidation. The deceased’s brother, Indrajit Lankesh, has demanded a CBI probe into her death despite the fact that he has been flip-flopping on various TV channels regarding his suspicions.

It would be prudent that he, as also other members of Gauri’s family, should give their statements only to the police and not to the media so as to allow the investigators to do their job in an objective manner. The way Sheena Bora’s case in Mumbai took a dramatic turn should not be replicated, and Gauri’s relatives must not repeat the mistake committed by media baron Peter Mukerjea, now in custody, who was over eager to give “his side of the story to pliant TV channels”. There are no two sides of any story when it comes to unravelling the truth and even in Sheena Bora’s probe, it is at this stage premature to judge anybody, particularly while the trial is on. 

It is but natural to empathise with the slain journalist and those who have openly come out to express their solidarity with her must take utmost care not to allow her death to be lost in the haze of political sparring. Gauri may have been pro a certain ideology but that does not necessarily mean that she was killed by those who were not on the same page as her. In this context, the anachronistic bigots who are hailing her killing should understand that their actions are making people believe that they have something to conceal. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has tried to drive some sense into their hardened heads but they are unrepentant and have, in fact, hit back to target him instead.

Similarly, Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury must display greater maturity before insinuating that the right wingers are responsible for this killing. They both are national leaders and in an atmosphere that has been politically surcharged, they must figure out the ramifications of their utterances. There is a Rule of Law in this country. Therefore, they should allow the police to book the culprits and unravel the conspiracy behind the murder.

There has been a demand from some quarters that the Prime Minister should step out and in no uncertain terms condemn the murder. Concurrently he should distance himself from those who have been revelling over the slaying since a few of such elements are also followed by Narendra Modi on Twitter. While it is for the Prime Minister to decide what he should be doing, the denouncement of the murder in the strongest terms is the need of the moment.

Finally, supporters of Hindutva must understand that there is a marked difference between Hindu religion and politics that takes the support of religious beliefs for the furtherance of its agenda. Hinduism is so boundless that no person can proclaim himself or herself as either its custodian or spokesperson. The sooner this is perceived, the better it would be for this great country where varied streams of thoughts have been encouraged and celebrated despite differences that have for centuries co-existed. Between us.

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