The brutal murder of Left activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh has spotlighted the ideological tussle between her filmmaker brother Indrajit Lankesh who is a BJP sympathiser, their fallout.
Gauri started her career as a journalist with The Times of India in Bengaluru and Delhi before moving back to Karnataka after the death of her illustrious father P Lankesh, who was celebrated poet, fiction writer, screenplay writer and journalist in the Kannada language.
Her writer- journalist father was known for his secular, anti-caste and anti-Hindutva views. After his death, Gauri Lankesh took over as the editor of Lankesh Patrike in 2000 while her brother lookedafter the publication’s business affairs. The other sister Kavita Lankesh decided to stay away from politics and journalism business, continuing her work as a filmmaker.
Her brother Indrajit Lankesh’s political views were contrary to that of Gauri’s left-leaning politics. The rift couldn’t be swept under carpet forever, especially at a time when they were running the tabloidtogether. Within a year their political differences came out in the open. In February 2005, Indrajit withdrew a report approved by Gauri in the paper, alleging that it favoured the Naxalites.
This led to an ugly spat between the two. Indrajit filed a police complaint against her, accusing her of stealing a computer, printer and scanner from the publication's office. She filed a counter complaint, accusing Indrajit of threatening her with a revolver. Indrajit even went to the press to accuse her of promoting Naxalism through the paper. After all this mud-slinging, Gauri subsequently started her own Kannada weekly called Gauri Lankesh Patrike.
However, Gauri fought all the odds to become a prominent socialist voice in the recent times. She also formed the Forum for Communal Harmony that spoke equivocally against the attacks against minorities. The fact that the tabloid run by Durga was undergoing enormous financial crunch was known to everyone as the scribe struggled to churn every edition under pressure.
However, in the light of upcoming elections, Gauri Lankesh’s murder can be used by both major political parties to gain political mileage. The Congress could find political capital in the growing belief that Hindu extremists, whom she offended through her writing and activism, would have murdered her. The BJP could cite it as a breakdown of law-and-order in the state.
The Congress leader and Karnataka Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy compared the murder to that of Narendra Dabholkar and M M Kalburgi, who are suspected to have been shot dead by fringe Hindu groups. However, the state police chief R K Dutta refused to name any possible suspects. The BJP leader KS Eshwarappa criticised the Congress-led state government for allegedly failing to protect the lives of Gauri and other writers like Kalburgi.