As people from across the country continue to condemn the murder of firebrand journalist, Gauri Lankesh, the big question that comes to my mind is, are we seeing the death of tolerance? I will not go into details of what Gauri said or wrote or who or what was the murder motive.
The bottom line is a murder is a murder. No line of justification can adequately support taking away someone’s life. The fact that this murder shows a lot of similarity with free thinker Kalburgi’s murder two years ago is even more disturbing.
We all know Gauri Lankesh as a gutsy and outspoken editor. She was quite a vocal and open critic of the right wing. I am sure that all of these will immediately remind you about the ruthless murder of one of India’s best-known scholars and rational thinkers, Malleshappa Kalburgi. He was also a straight talking researcher who openly questioned the logic of idol worship. The Lingayat community was up in arms against his views.
One basic fact that is worrying me is, does it indicate a developing trend. Have the unexplained death of the various whistle-blowers in UP and Bihar and outspoken journalists in Madhya Pradesh become mere historical records?
One of the core pillars of our Constitution is the freedom of speech. Every individual in this country has the right to express their views. It is a different question that we may or may not agree to it but surely murder cannot be a justification for it.
Am I to conclude that in many ways this is perhaps the beginning of the end of free speech in our country? A death of tolerance, a death of multiple views and the end of open minded approach and free thinking. Would open speech be sacrificed at the altar of power and blind faith?
Not just as a journalist but these are questions that are troubling me as a proud citizen of one of the world’s biggest democracies.