Dear Concerned and Conscious Citizens,
The assassination of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh has evidently rung a strong alarm. Though the chain of resolve to condemn and resist the dastardly act exhibited across the nation is encouraging, much more needs to be done to counter the terror acts and save the precious dissident democratic spaces from the onslaught of fascist forces.
The assassination of Gauri Lankesh, two years after a similar horror was perpetrated on scholar M.M.Kalaburgi in Karnataka, we believe, is not an isolated act. Murder of rationalists in the very same fashion in Maharashtra had given the warning signals much before. And these killings are inseparable from the chain of killings of Daliths and Muslims in the name of ‘cow protection’, ‘religion’ etc. It is the dangerous continuation of the spread of right wing ideology which has started in 1990s.
Being a founder member of Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike [The Communal Harmony Forum, Karnataka], Gauri Lankesh was actively involved in the resistance against reactionary forces along with other progressive sections of Karnataka who had responded pro-actively and consistently to counter the growth of such trend in the society. Many are the earnest, serious and brave attempts being made across India by very many organizations, groups and even individuals to expose and oppose the dreadful forces who are a threat to a unified and just society. Yet the above assassinations and other developments clearly demonstrate that whatever has been done is just not sufficient to counter their terror. The major concern is the limited spread of the organized resistance among wider and diverse Civil Society Institutions in Karnataka and entire India in fact.
It has often been pointed out that, in spite of land slide electoral mandate garnered by right wing forces, nearly two third voters showed their opposition to rise of the authoritarian right wing. Yet the practical efforts to identify the discrete oppositional bases and to mobilize such civil society dissidence to consolidate a formidable coalition of left, liberal and democratic forces have been slow and desperate. But after the killing of Gauri Lankesh a stronger reaction has come from different quarters of the society which include Artists (including ‘main stream’ cinema), Journalists, ex-civil service officers, legal fraternity including former judges, Academicians, Religious heads (especially the Viraktha Basava tradition Swamijis of Karnataka), LGBT community etc and more serious resolve is shown by diverse streams across the nation, as never before. Youth and students formed the major chunk of the different mobilisations against this killing. These facts are clearly underlined by any number of ongoing protests, spontaneous outpour of common people into the streets and a whole shower of creative and angry resistance in social media. This amply demonstrates that, the ‘Optimism of Will’ to resist divisive forces is alive and uncompromisingly rising the voice of dissent. The Symbolic Black we wore for mourning has transformed in to ‘The Black of resistance’.
Hitherto history indicates that, wherever it may be, a severe blow to any fascism and dictatorship could be dealt only through the widest possible united front of all who firmly stood to oppose it. The ascendance of rightist elements not only in India but world over forewarns us of the grave risks to all democracy and harmony. As Dickensian saying goes “It is the time of despair, it is the time of hope”. So, NOW is the time to respond to our inner call. NOW is the time to cease and weave a network of fraternity to halt right wing terrorism from sowing and spearheading desperation, death and destruction.
We earnestly appeal to all citizens who have shown the courage to say NO to perpetuators of terror, to come in clusters and build a broad, democratic coalition to rescue Freedom and Democracy from onslaught of Right Wing Fascism. We appeal to every individual and collective, all those who think and feel for the future of humanity as a whole, to come forward and support the voice of Unity for a harmonious and Vibrant Society.
As the first step in this process, we request one and all to join hands in the All India decentralized but coordinated Dharna in front of Gandhi statues/memorials or such other public place on Oct 2nd to condemn Gauri’s killing. Secondly, we request that people be mobilised in every state for the centralized rally in Delhi on 5th Oct, when it would be exactly one month from the date of killing. Already existing initiatives to hold protest meetings within the state on the said date may be held accordingly thus strengthening the protest voice. Elsewhere and also in addition to intrastate protests it will be good to organise a section of the people for the central rally as well, to the maximum extent possible.
The immediate necessity to pursue this joint effort is to:
Demand that the police investigation primarily focuses on the most probable killers and the real political actors behind them as is the normal procedure. The most probable killers here are obviously only those who were Gauri’s main adversaries, the most retrogressive forces which had threatened to kill Gauri and which have justified and celebrated her killing. And the state government in Karnataka expedites action in this direction by all means.
To insist above all that it is the utmost responsibility of the offices that are supposed to safeguard the constitutional values to discharge their duty impartially. But unfortunately the present dispensation in the centre is unashamedly upholding and supporting the forces which are destroying communal harmony and democratic values that are entrenched in our society. Hence it is all the more necessary that ‘we the people of India’ apply moral and political pressure on the prevailing regime, such that an unbiased enquiry is conducted not only to arrest the criminals behind the acts but also the extra constitutional forces behind them.
The programme in Delhi thus is very necessary and important to exert pressure on the central government, to reach our voice to those in the higher echelons of power, who are willfully acting deaf and dumb in this vital matter that has moved the entire country. And this calls for the direct participation of all conscientious well-known citizens of our land in the forefront of the rally, to lend a stronger voice to that of the assembled people.
We once again appeal to each of you and all of you to join us on
OCTOBER 2nd in respective state and on OCTOBER 5th in Delhi and thus
‘Stand up for Gauri, Stand up for freedom, Stand up for harmony’
The common slogan shall be: ‘Those who killed Gandhi killed Gauri’