By Mayura Choudhari
When the murderer of Gauri Lankesh, a progressive activist and editor of Kannada tabloid Lankesh Patrike, Parshuram Waghmore confessed two years back about him being told to kill Gauri who he believed was harmful for his religion and to save his religion, she has to be killed. "I was told in May 2017 I had to kill someone to save my religion. I agreed. I didn't know who the victim was. Now I feel that I should have not killed the woman."
What does a Journalist do to harm a religion? Or should we ask what religion does, that journalists have been revealing about?
Lankesh was shot down by two assailants, part of an alleged larger conspiracy to take out anti-Hindutva voices, outside her home in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar three years ago, i.e. on 5 September, 2017. Besides, Lankesh’s murder was likened to the killings of three other rationalists; Narendra Dabholkar, founder of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti on 20 August 2013 in Pune, followed by the assassination of CPI leader Govind Pansare on 16 February 2015 in Kolhapur, and M. M. Kalburgi on 30 August 2015 in Dharwad, Karnataka.
It is said that the group dedicated to such conspiracy killings was inspired by the book, ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’, brought out by the Sanatan Sanstha. Also, the SIT alleged that the accused had strictly followed the guidelines and principles mentioned in the ‘Kshatra Dharma Sadhana’, whereas the book is said to be a mere compilation of Geeta and Ramayan as said by Chetan Rajhans, Sanatan Sanstha's spokesperson. During investigation it was revealed that the members of the terrorist gang are also members of organisations such as Sanatan Sanstha, Hindu Janjagruti and other smaller organisations.
The question here arises, why would such religious hindus kill a Journalist? Is really "Hindu Khatre me hai"?? (Are really hindus in danger?) Or as observed, anyone (even from within the religion) who speaks against the superstitious and ill practices within the religion which are enforced on its followers, is in danger?
"They had conspired to form a terrorist gang with a similar mindset to work towards undermining unity, integrity, security and sovereignty of the country,” the ATS said.
The clear agenda of changing this socialist democratic nation into a Hindu Nation, isn't this problematic? Or isn't it an anti-national act? where journalists for finding facts and doing their own duty of publishing the truth are being killed, isn't it terrorism? We can also think about who gives them the power to do so? Is religion more powerful than the government? Or is the government in power too religious one? Or both might be going hand in hand.
Gauri published an article titled "Darodegilada BJP galu" in her newspaper. The article criticised the BJP leaders to which she had to face a long running court case against her under defamation.
In an interview with Scroll.in Prakash Belwadi, theatre personality and activist in Bengaluru who knew Gauri Lankesh since they were children said, "She became harder and harder and took a very strong stand against the Sangh Parivar and a very pro-Dalit stand."
Lankesh's last editorial 'In the Age of False News’ also dealt with how propaganda journalism is at its peak and how religious biases especially in favour of Hindu agenda has become normal. Yes, indeed it is the new normal, perhaps journalists themselves are seen clearly propagating hindutva.
On 5th of August 2020 news rooms became identical sets of Ayodhya Ram Mandir, called up bhajan mandalis to sing ram bhajans and the journalists too were not in the roles of journalists but as ram bhakts. To the extent, Navika Kumar from Times group herself was singing Ram Bhakti songs on a tv tuning with Sambit Patra. Why to name them when even the prime minister of the nation himself cannot control his favouritism.
Also we need to give it a thought whether journalists are propagating hindutva out of personal favouritism or under any pressure or fear to be killed like Gauri if they don't or critique the biasedness.
The constitution should be supreme and no religion should be above the constitution of India. The constitution gives rights and freedom of speech and expressions to its citizens and anybody destroying it or killing someone for implementing their own rights should be punished and tagged anti nationals. Whereas we see people tag anti national to the one whom they find being anti hindutva or simply having criticism on Hindutva. It's high time the country should accept that our nation is not a Hindu Nation and hinduism isn't nationality.
At Least Journalists should accept the basic facts and stop being kids of the pro hindutva government and pull up their socks for real Journalism. Let us take inspiration from the fearless Journalist Gauri Lankesh and try to make the fourth pillar of democracy stronger and bring back its ethical value, authenticity and rationality.
Mayura Choudhari is a co-founder of The Colourboard.