Bengaluru people chant ‘We are Gauri’, vow to fight

Bengaluru: “We are Gauri!” Angry cries rent the air as a sea of protesters converged on Central College Grounds on Tuesday morning. The event was to become one of the largest non-political gatherings of its kinds in the recent history. Writers, rationalists, scholars, academicians and journalists joined a crowd over 20,000 supporters of journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was shot by unidentified assailants on September 5.

Hundreds thronged K.S.R. railway station on Tuesday morning as students from Christ University, National Law School of India University and St. Joseph’s College joined a rally of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers with the “We are Gauri” refrain, as criticisms against right wing elements, allegedly suspected to be behind the killing, swelled to a clamour. Social activists Medha Patkar and Kavita Krishnan fuelled the enthusiasm of the marching rally. “Sanatan Bharat has been spewing venom against progressive thinkers on their website,” said Ms Patkar. “In fact, they’re even more venomous than the RSS. Why aren’t they being questioned?

A stream of notables joined the resistance meeting at the venue, including CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan, Swami Agnivesh, documentary filmmakers Rakesh Sharma and Anand Patwardhan, to name a few. #IamGauri, a commemorative edition of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, was released at the resistance event. #IAmGauri began to trend once more on social media as videos of the meet were uploaded on various platforms.

It was dalit activist Jignesh Mewani, however, who stole the show. Mr Mewani said, “Why is the PM following the trolls who abused women journalists, including Lankesh’s death, on Twitter,” he said, adding that from this stage, I want to promise that I will fight, until my last breath, for the secular, pluralistic and democratic values of this country.”

“This is only the beginning,” said Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary, to a chorus of cheers. “The first victim of Hindutva terror was Gandhi, who also dreamed of a secular India. The diversity of the country can only co-exist only with equal opportunities to discuss, speak, express oneself, and to disagree. This should not put one at the receiving end of bullets.”