Dark clouds

With the mur­ders of Gauri Lankesh and M.M. Kal­burgi, many peo­ple feel that there is an op­pres­sive cli­mate in Kar­nataka that is sti­fling of free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

FrontLine - - COVER STORY - BY VIKHAR AHMED SAYEED

THIS SEPTEM­BER 5 MARKED A YEAR SINCE the as­sas­si­na­tion of the jour­nal­ist Gauri Lankesh. As the Bengaluru-based Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tion Team (SIT) gets ready to file its charge sheet against the ac­cused, me­dia re­ports make it clear that the sus­pects owe al­le­giance to a rad­i­cal Hindu doc­trine that ad­vo­cates the killing of ide­o­log­i­cal op­po­nents. Gauri Lankesh’s mur­der was pre­ceded by those of Naren­dra Dab­holkar (Au­gust 20, 2013, in Pune, Ma­ha­rash­tra), Govind Pansare (shot on Fe­bru­ary 16, 2015, in Kohla­pur, Ma­ha­rash­tra, and died on Fe­bru­ary 20 in Mumbai) and M.M. Kal­burgi (Au­gust 30, 2015, in Dhar­wad, Kar­nataka). The four vic­tims had dif­fer­ent vo­ca­tions and sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fered in their world views, but what was com­mon to all of them was their con­sis­tent ques­tion­ing of Hindu re­li­gious dogma. The mur­ders of Kal­burgi and Gauri Lankesh were cel­e­brated by right-wing trolls on so­cial me­dia in Kar­nataka.

For so­cial ac­tivists, writ­ers and in­tel­lec­tu­als in Kar­nataka, the dates Au­gust 30 and Septem­ber 5 have come to sig­nify a ma­jor change in the cli­mate of free­dom

AT THE IN­AU­GU­RA­TION of the Lit­er­ary Meet for Tol­er­ance, which had re­li­gious tol­er­ance and gram swaraj as its two cen­tral themes, in the Se­nate Hall of Cen­tral Col­lege in Bengaluru on Septem­ber 2. Girish Kar­nad, Ra­machan­dra Guha, M.S. Sathyu, Geeta Har­i­ha­ran and Ganesh N. Devy were among the writ­ers, film-mak­ers and artists present.

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