Gauri Lankesh: A Champion of Truth and Justice
Gauri Lankesh, a formidable Indian journalist and activist, has left an indelible mark on the spheres of journalism and social activism. Born on January 29, 1962, in Bangalore, Karnataka, Gauri’s destiny was intertwined with her father, P. Lankesh, a renowned poet-journalist who founded the Kannada weekly tabloid, Lankesh Patrike. Throughout her life and career, Gauri remained dedicated to the principles of truth, social justice, and an unwavering commitment to freedom of expression.
Early Life and Professional Journey
Gauri commenced her journalistic odyssey with The Times of India in Bangalore before relocating to Delhi with her husband, Chidanand Rajghatta. Returning to Bangalore, she served as a correspondent for the Sunday magazine for nine years. After her father’s demise in 2000, Gauri assumed the leadership of Lankesh Patrike, upholding her family’s journalistic legacy.
Lankesh Patrike Controversy
During a pivotal period marked by ideological differences with her brother, Indrajit, regarding the newspaper’s content, Gauri founded her own weekly, Gauri Lankesh Patrike, in 2005. This decision underscored her unwavering commitment to journalistic integrity and refusal to compromise on her principles.
Political Stance and Ideals
Gauri Lankesh emerged as a vocal critic of right-wing Hindu extremism, challenging attempts by the Sangh Parivar to Hinduize various aspects of Indian society. Her advocacy extended to women’s rights, opposition to caste-based discrimination, and support for minority rights. Her fearless stance against the caste system and endorsement of a minority religion tag for the Lingayat community showcased her dedication to social justice.
Defamation Case and Legal Battles
In 2016, Gauri faced a defamation case related to an article in her newspaper, arguing that the charges were politically motivated due to her left-leaning views. Despite legal battles, she remained steadfast in her pursuit of truth, consistently challenging the prevailing status quo.
Personal Life and Legacy
Marked by a divorce, Gauri devoted herself entirely to her work, considering activists like Jignesh Mevani, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, and Shehla Rashid Shora as her “adopted children.” Her nurturing spirit towards those who shared her passion for justice was evident, as she lived independently without children.
Tragic End and Ongoing Investigation
On September 5, 2017, Gauri Lankesh met a tragic end when three unidentified assailants murdered her outside her Bangalore home. The incident prompted nationwide condemnation and protests. The ongoing investigation has seen the detention of suspects, yet questions persist regarding the motive and masterminds behind the crime.
Legacy and Global Recognition
Gauri Lankesh’s legacy endures as an inspiration for those resisting the rightward shift in governance. In 2021, the Canadian city of Burnaby designated September 5 as “Gauri Lankesh Day” to honour her contributions. “Forbidden Stories” pursued Lankesh’s work on fake news and explored new leads in her murder case as part of the case series “Story Killers.”
Gauri Lankesh’s life and work embody the unyielding spirit of journalistic integrity and social activism. Her fearless pursuit of truth, advocacy for marginalised communities, and opposition to extremism make her a symbol of resistance against injustice. As the investigation into her murder persists, Gauri Lankesh’s legacy continues to resonate as a rallying cry for those who champion free speech, social justice, and the relentless pursuit of truth.