Swaraj India holds candlelight vigil for slain journalist- activist Gauri Lankesh

Gauri Lankesh
Gauri Lankesh

A candlelight vigil was held at the India Gate tonight to pay tribute to slain journalist- activist Gauri Lankesh, with Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav saying the "climate of fear" must be combated by civil society groups.

A small group of people from different parts of the national capital responded to the call of the Yadav-led party and expressed solidarity with Lankesh. "This wasn't an attack on a journalist, or attack on the media fraternity, but some of the very ideas on which are Constitution is based," he said.

An outspoken critic of Hindutva politics, Lankesh, 55, was shot dead by unidentified assailants at the entrance of her residence in Rajrajeshwari Nagar in Bengaluru yesterday. "There is an undeclared censorship in the country. People are first targeted on social media, then mainstream media and eventually, if their views are divergent or if they dissent, they are silenced in real life too," Yadav alleged.

"There is a climate of fear, and Lankesh was killed to give a signal that tomorrow you could be next, so behave or face consequences. But, civil society activism is the way forward," he said. The "fear and intimidation" being spread by an "army of trolls" on social media and the hate-mongering in real life, can only be combated by joint efforts of civil society groups, Yadav said.

Noted lawyer and Swaraj India founding member Prashant Bhushan said, "Two persons can have ideological differences, but a murder can never be justified." Swaroop Singh Bisht, 37, who came from Badarpur in south Delhi, to take part in the vigil said he was shocked by the news of her killing.

"Someone, a journalist no less, was killed right outside her home in a metro city like Bangalore. That should make us all uncomfortable. Since, the voices from Delhi (India Gate) reach out to all parts of the country, we came here to spread the message," he said.

Earlier, at a condolence meeting attended by hundreds at the Press Club of India here, Yadav held that Lankesh was silenced as "she stood for a culturally rooted secularism". She edited a Kannada tabloid 'Gauri Lankesh Patrike' besides owning some other publications.

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