Raj Bhavan Chalo! On September 5, the Freedom of Expression convention will bring activists, thinkers and intellectuals from across the country to mark the death anniversary of Gauri Lankesh. The brutal killing of the fiery journalist has come to stand for something greater: growing illiberalism and the often violent resistance of cultural diversity. Even Gauri, who spoke unceasingly for the downtrodden, became part of a rightwing-led smear campaign, becoming an icon of sacrilege. With the killers in custody but the mastermind still at large, the rally calls for far-sighted measures, including the banning of Goa-based Sanatan Sanstha as a "terrorist organisation," and the tackling of the larger problem at hand: The rise of an intolerant fringe, the self-appointed custodians of Hindu morality, who stop at nothing to silence those who get in their way. As journalist and author Chidanand Rajghatta says of the killing of his "simple, straight-align journalist," ex-wife, " it was incredibly cowardly."
On this day, exactly a year ago, a voice that vehemently criticised Hindutva ideology and condemned its proposal to form a Hindu Rashtra, was silenced by three bullets that pierced her body on the evening of September 5, 2017, outside her home in RR Nagar. There was much speculation and many suspects. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) that looked into the murder of one of the state’s seniormost journalists/activists, Gauri Lankesh, established a Hindutva link. As many as 12 accused, all associated with one or the other Hindutva outfit, including the man who pulled the trigger on Ms Lankesh, Parashuram Waghmore, were arrested, making it evident that it was a Hindutva ploy executed by a few right wing fundamentalists spearheading a movement to save ‘Hinduism.’ Although some of the accused have been found to be associated with a radical Hindutva group, Sanatan Sanstha, the organisation has denied any link to them.
It has also been established that Ms Lankesh was not their only target, but also rationalist/author from Maharashtra, Narendra Dabholkar, Communist leader, Govind Pansare, and Karnataka scholar, M M Kalburgi, who were killed at different times in recent years. And it does not end there. The fanatics were on a spree to eliminate all rationalists and writers, who spoke or wrote against Hindutva and next on their list of targets was Mysuru writer, Prof. KS Bhagwan. A year after Ms Lankesh’s death, her admirers and haters have come forward to mark her first death anniversary on Wednesday. While the former have planned to concentrate on her idea of what a secular country should be, the latter will protest the arrest of those suspected of involvement in her murder, claiming they are innocent and wrongly accused.
Blanket ban on Sanatan Sanstha
With the role of Hindutva being proved in the murder of the senior journalist, the demand to ban the Sanatan Sanstha is gaining momentum among rationalists, writers, filmmakers and journalists associated with the Gauri Lankesh Balaga. A protest march will be held as part of ‘Gauri Assasin Day’ on Wednesday to Raj Bhavan demanding the government consider the Sanatan Sanstha a terror outfit and ban it. The rally will be inaugurated by Swami Agnivesh, who was attacked twice recently. Eight prominent Kannada writers, including Girish Karnad, whose names were on a hit list discovered by the SIT during its probe, are expected to participate.
The day will conclude with a convention, ‘Right to Speak’ at the Jnana Jyothi Convention Hall at the Central College, which will be addressed by Umar Khalid, Kanhaiya Kumar, MLA Jignesh Mevani, Teesta Setalvad among others. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister and Home Minister, Dr. G Parameshwara has agreed to consider banning the outfit if its role in the outspoken journalist’s murder is proved and Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar too has supported such action against it. “We have demanded this earlier and we are demanding it again. An organisation, which kills and plots to kill people in order to eliminate their ideology, has no right to continue. Many people attached to these organisations have been arrested and we believe that the Goa government should decide on this soon," Mr. Chodankar said.
Journalist Gauri Lankesh in happier times, wrote this email to her ex-husband, Chidanand Rajghatta. The email is an excerpt from his book, Illiberal India: Gauri Lankesh and the Age of Unreason
How could i have a difference of opinion about the name sharana?
Like you, i believe that lingayats have forgotten all concept of what lingayat dharma stands for (considering that some lingayats observe ashta
mahalakshmi/etc festivals as a show case of hindu religion: ;-) (could not resist that jibe, soooooooooooooooo ooory :-)) incidentally, lingayats and veerashaivas are not one and the same. shaivism has existed along with vaishnavism much before the sharana revolution of the 12th century. that is the point that people like m m kalburgi were trying to make. the important point is that while shaivism and its associated veerashaivism are part and parcel of the so called brahminical hindu dharma, the sharana revolution which gave rise to lingayat dharma-which is totally opposed to the brahminical hindu dharma- is a totally different religion. even today, the veerashaiva matas don't accept basavanna as their ideological chief. it is only the virakta mathas which follow basava dharma (though they too have distorted it now). In fact, veerashaivas and lingayats are two totally different ideologies.
Kalburgi (and people such as myself) believed in that and used to argue that lingayats are not hindus. perhaps that is what led to his killing, who knows? I love the concept of sharana, its so beautiful and meaningful. and 'sharanu sharanaarthigalu' is much more meaningful than any other greeting. in fact, i use this greeting when i have to speak to various religious heads, whether brahmin, lingayat, muslim or christian. and those religious heads respond to me according to their custom. its all so cordial. initially, my leftist friends used to make fun of me when i used to say it since i am-according to them-a lingayat (of course i don't use it in everyday common usage). but then they realized that i believe in the concept and are now okay with it. anyway, enough pontificating. i love the name you and mary have given to your son.
Sharanu sharanaarthigalu to both of you. hugs and love and affection as always.