Dr Narendra Dabholkar, a medical doctor, the founder of Maharashtra
Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti and the force behind Maharashtra’s Anti
Superstition Bill, was shot dead on August 20, 2013 while out on a morning
walk in Pune. The case was transferred to the CBI in May 2014 when the
police investigation failed to make any headway. Four years have passed and
there has been no conviction.
Govind Pansare, a senior left-wing leader and a rationalist, was shot dead
on February 15, 2015 while out for a morning walk with his wife in
Kolhapur, Maharashtra. The case was transferred to an SIT in 2016 when the
police couldn’t find any significant leads. Two years and six months later, there’s
been no conviction.
M M Kalburgi, former Vice Chancellor of Kannada University and a
rationalist, was killed outside his residence in Dharwad on August 30,
2015. The case was transferred to CBI the same year as the police felt they
were not adequately equipped to handle the case. Two years have passed and
there has been no conviction.
And now. Gauri Lankesh, a journalist and staunch critic of the Right Wing fringe was
shot dead at her doorstep on September 5, 2017. An SIT has been formed by
the Karnataka government to expeditiously probe the case. There are no
concrete leads so far.
To be a voice of dissent has never been easy, especially in a country as
pluralistic as India, where sensibilities are hurt at the drop of a hat (especially
if you’re a woman.). But the dissenters are aware of the discomfort they bring about in the majority yet they fearlessly march on to do the job that they think is
Gauri’s friend Chaitanya KM, in his piece, wrote that he warned Gauri about the
threat to her life because of her dogged efforts to take on the Right Wing
fringe but she dismissed it by saying “Intolerant voices find strength in
our silence”. Such was her courage – a courage we salute.
Nobody knows who killed Gauri, but we do know that with Gauri’s brutal
murder, a fiery voice of reason and rationality has been extinguished. What
is more sinister is the kind of trolling she was subjected to, even after she was no more.
It makes you wonder if something about her being a woman and an outspoken one, is what made her so unpopular. One such tweet even justified her death, saying – “Jaisi Karni waisi bharni” (As you sow, so shall you reap).
I say this because one particular social media post made me think. While applauding the
murder, the person went on to say that the next in line should be Sagarika Ghose, Arundhato Roy and Barkha Dutt – all women, and all self-made, thinking women who
bow to no one and say it like it is. So yes, I do wonder if something about being an “unconventional” woman is really threatening to a certain faction today.
It’s so easy to troll women, is it not? Get to her anatomy and you feel you’ve achieved
your aim (not true, but that seems to be the popular belief) – from Shobha De to Gurmeher Kaur, women seem to be getting threats for speaking their minds.
What will come of Gauri’s case? Are the authorities too poorly equipped to bring
the killers to justice, or is there a lack of political and administrative
will? Will she get justice soon? A woman, who took on the men?
Don’t hold your breath.
The author likes to be known as:
“A girl has no name”