Gauri Lankesh, a prominent Indian journalist and activist, left an indelible mark on the landscape of journalism and social activism. Born on January 29, 1962, in Bangalore, Karnataka, Gauri was destined to follow in the footsteps of her father, P. Lankesh, a renowned poet-journalist who founded the Kannada weekly tabloid, Lankesh Patrike. Gauri's life and career were characterised by a fierce commitment to truth, social justice, and a relentless pursuit of freedom of expression.
Gauri began her journalistic journey with The Times of India in Bangalore before moving to Delhi with her husband, Chidanand Rajghatta. Returning to Bangalore, she worked as a correspondent for the Sunday magazine for nine years. Following her father's demise in 2000, Gauri took charge of Lankesh Patrike, continuing the legacy of her family's journalistic contributions.
Tensions arose within the family when ideological differences emerged between Gauri and her brother, Indrajit, over the newspaper's content. This conflict culminated in Gauri starting her own weekly, Gauri Lankesh Patrike, in 2005. This marked a pivotal moment in Gauri's career, reflecting her unwavering commitment to journalistic integrity and her refusal to compromise on her principles.
Gauri Lankesh was a vocal critic of right-wing Hindu extremism, challenging the Sangh Parivar's attempts to Hinduize various aspects of Indian society. Her advocacy extended to women's rights, opposition to caste-based discrimination, and support for minority rights. Gauri's fearless stance against the caste system and her endorsement of a minority religion tag for the Lingayat community showcased her commitment to social justice.
In 2016, Gauri faced a defamation case for an article published in her newspaper. She argued that the charges were politically motivated, stemming from her left-leaning views. Despite the legal battles, Gauri remained steadfast in her pursuit of truth and continued to challenge the status quo.
Gauri's personal life was marked by a divorce and a commitment to her work. Living alone and without children, she metaphorically considered activists like Jignesh Mevani, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, and Shehla Rashid Shora as her "adopted children." This reflected her nurturing spirit toward those who shared her passion for justice.
On September 5, 2017, Gauri Lankesh was tragically murdered outside her home in Bangalore by three unidentified assailants. The shocking event sent ripples through the nation, sparking widespread condemnation and protests. The investigation into her murder, ongoing since then, has seen developments with the detention of suspects, but questions linger about the motive and masterminds behind the crime.
Gauri Lankesh's legacy lives on as an inspiration for those fighting against the rightward shift in governance. In 2021, the Canadian city of Burnaby dedicated September 5 as "Gauri Lankesh Day" to commemorate her contributions. "Forbidden Stories" pursued Lankesh’s work on fake news and explored new leads in her murder case as part of the case series "Story Killers."
Gauri Lankesh's life and work symbolise the unwavering spirit of journalistic integrity and social activism. Her fearless pursuit of truth, advocacy for marginalised communities, and opposition to extremism make her a symbol of resistance against injustice. As the investigation into her murder continues, Gauri Lankesh's legacy serves as a rallying cry for those who believe in the power of free speech, social justice, and the relentless pursuit of truth.