As I write this editorial on the dastardly death of Gauri Lankesh, I am sent a news update from stringer in Bihar that a journalist Pankaj Mishra of ‘Rashtriya Sahara’ was shot this afternoon.
The death of renowned journalist Gauri Lankesh in a dastardly manner is a blot on our society. To me death of any journalist by forces that want to suppress the voice of truth is stain on our nation.
It is important for both the Congress government in the state and Modi-led BJP government at the Centre to ensure that murderers be dragged to prison and the truth behind the murder is exposed.
It is sad to see that the death of a person becomes a political plank to score brownie points. This is not an attack on the political parties or their leaders; the killing of any journalist is an attack on every citizen of our country. It is an act of suppression of our Freedom of Expression.
I have never followed Gauri Lankesh. Neither do I have an opinion about her views on naxalism, hindutva or governance. But I do know that every person in this country, not only journalist, has the right to share their views with the public.
Journalists with their own views political or non-political are always going to find followers and haters. That is both the joy and curse of the job of being a scribe.
The nation’s reaction to the death of Gauri Lankesh is completely justified. Let me present few facts on journalist deaths in the nation since 2013:
In 2013 – the following journalists were murdered – Rajesh Verma from IBN and Rakesh Sharma from Aaj in UP; Sai Reddy from Deshbandhu and Nemi Chand Jain from Nai Duniya in Chhatisgarh. Jitendra Singh from Prabhat Khabar from Jharkhand.
In 2014 – the following journalists were murdered – Tarun Kumar Acharya from Kanak in Odisha; MVN Shankar from Andhra Prabha in Andhra Pradesh.
In 2015 – the following journalists were murdered – Mithilesh Pandey from Dainik Jagran, Hemant Yadav from TV24, Sanjay Pathak from a Hindi Daily, Devendra Chaturvedi from Smaridhi, Jagendra Singh from Samachar in UP; Ajay Vidrohi from Patrika in Bihar; Akshay Singh from Aaj Tak and Sandeep Kothari from Nai Duniya in Madhya Pradesh.
In 2016 – the following journalists were murdered – Karun Mishra from Jan Sandesh from UP; Rajdeo Ranjan from Dainik Hindustan and Dharmendra Singh from Dainik Bhaskar from Bihar; Indradev Yadav from Taaza TV in Jharkhand; Kishore Dave from Jai Hind in Gujarat.
In 2017 – the following journalist was murdered – Kamlesh Jain from Nai Duniya and now Gauri Lankesh.
Yet while the nation erupts with rage on the death of Gauri Lankesh, we as a nation have remained silent on the murder of the 21 journalists who were also murdered for their views and stories they were to expose.
So why would we have a selective outrage.
Is it because the 21 journalists represented the vernacular media and not English media? Or was it because the journalists were murdered in states where those protesting now could not play a political plank?
Can anyone tell me the difference between a Kamlesh Jain murdered earlier this year from Gauri Lankesh? They were both journalist and they were both murdered.
I believe that our journalists will continue to be murdered because this outrage is a political outrage and not one aimed at stemming the rot where Freedom of Expression is truly crushed.
When celebrities start raising their voices over the death of Gauri Lankesh, you wonder why they were silent on the remaining 21 journalists.
When politicians start raising their voices for justice over the death of Gauri Lankesh, you wonder why they were silent on the remaining 21 journalists.
I sincerely pray that the murderers of Gauri Lankesh are found and punished as much as pray that the other 21 journalists get justice too.