The bullets that were fired at Gauri Lankesh just as she returned to her house in Bangalore city late evening yesterday , which killed her instantly, has also snuffed out part of our faith and hope in our democracy, in our government, and in our Constitution. Why did she deserve this cruel end? Because she spoke truth to power? Because she held up humaneness as a defiant example to the intolerant? Because she would not bow down to corporate corruption and intimidation? Because she called fascism out? Because she was a friend of the Dalits? Because she helped the state by persuading Naxalites to give up armed struggle and to return to the mainstream of society. Because she blazed a trail, in the footsteps of her father Lankesh, as a struggling but exemplary journalist who would not take any advertisements in her paper Gauri Lankesh Patrika nor allow any sponsorships by big businesses? Because she was a gutsy woman who may not have had any personal enemies, but didn’t realize that her fault was just that – being a gutsy woman?
The motor cycle gang that felled her as she ran to the door of her house in a vain bid to get inside and out of harm’s way of the killers has become familiar, even as it remains anonymous, from similar such earlier killings. It is part of the street mafia emboldened by the atmosphere of hate and fear, the vicious cycle of violence invoked and unleashed by the saffron brigade. It is symptomatic of fascists that in normalcy they are nothing; they need chaos to feed on and grow into the horrible and frightening spectre that they are becoming in our country today.
We boast about the press as the fourth pillar of democracy. That pillar is now shakier than ever before, barring perhaps the period of the Emergency. The systematic targeting of journalists and right to information activists who play pretty much the role of investigative journalists in this new dark chapter of our politics makes a mockery of the fourth estate, the fourth pillar. The executive, the judiciary and the legislature are amply protected by the state. They have police and SPG and other specialised round- the-clock protection. But the press is at the mercy of such killer gangs. Actually, the deployment of excessive police strength to exclusively protect VIPs who normally belong to the political class leaves very few personnel for ordinary law and order duties. This makes the rest of the population vulnerable to such attacks and even terrorist attacks. There is no social audit on the manner in which police personnel in a city or town are deployed on day to day basis. All of this lackadaisical approach adds to the climate of impunity in which such antisocial elements and quotation gangs breed and thrive . It is in such a fragile environment that the journalist is supposed to speak truth to power.
But that is the point. They, the vested political and corporate interests, don’t want the journalists to speak truth to power, or any inconvenient truth for that matter. They want journalists to only say what they like to hear. Saying anything other than that is proving to be a grave occupational risk and hazard, and an invitation to gun toting goons on a motorcycle. This dastardly murder in cold blood of this bold but defenceless woman comes even as we have been exulting in the afterglow of the historic Supreme Court judgement on the right to privacy being a fundamental right even though it is not written into the chapter of the Constitution. One cannot help wondering what the point is in having fundamental rights which cannot be enjoyed or enforced. We are not able to exercise our existing much celebrated fundamental rights including the crucial one of freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19(1) and the very elemental and basic Right to life guaranteed under Article 21. Are those guarantees worth the paper they are written on if the state cannot ensure that they are indeed guaranteed and protected. Will a journalist or any citizen who is the victim of a murderous attack die a happier death in the knowledge that after all the Constitution has guaranteed him the right to life which he is about lose at the hands of his assailant ; or that his right to freedom of expression, which brought the attack on him in the first place, is alive and well on the pages of the Constitution? The dangerous politics of the Sangh parivar has made a mockery of our Constitution.
The right to own a gun enshrined in the US Constitution was always seen by us in India, with our political heritage of nonviolence, as an aberration and as a crusty Republican value. But if those with the guns are to be roaming the streets threatening all of us who don’t carry arms, and the police have more important things to do like protecting the VVIPs ( who if anything need to be protected from themselves), we might as well adopt this American trait and arm ourselves by law so that we are not sitting ducks for the culture brigades or quotation gangs and there’s at least a fighting chance that we can survive their murderous attacks.
Courtesy : Mathrubhumi
DISCLAIMER : The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the GLF Circle.