A colleague fell on the slayer’s bullets, but he let his death not be in vain. Although heartbreaking, Gauri Lankesh, the beaten up journalist killed in Bengaluru on Tuesday night, made us proud. He defended the principles he considered sincere and refused to give way until life was no longer suffocated.
His murder triggered national outrage and a spill of grief. From Rajasthan to Assam, and from Delhi to Kerala, thousands took to the streets to protest their meaningless homicide. The pictures of her that were in a pool of blood on the porch of her house led us to cry.
The murder was foolish, though the motive behind it was still settled. One might suppose that someone-or some people-decided that Lankesh, known for his shrill pro-poor and Hindutva activism, had crossed the line and had to be calmed down once and for all. The killers did the rest.
Lankesh may have been silenced, but now it is up to us – the journalists – to ensure that his long battle is not lost. It is advisable to walk the streets to protest against his murder and keep vigils with candles in his memory. But our collective testimony of support for a dead colleague should not end with a simple symbolism, but should lead to more substantial action.
On the one hand, we, as a community, must exert sustained pressure on the authorities to bring the murderers to justice. More importantly, the murder of Lankesh should encourage us to consider, in addition to mourning, at a time when some believe we are no better than “borrowers.”
Police investigations must reveal the reasons for his murder. At present, we can only speculate that it is the work of certain right-wing or Maoist assassins who might have disenchanted with Lankesh. There are also hints that everything was not right inside his own family.
Whatever the reason, one can not deny that Lankesh lived and died without giving up an inch of his principles. She has been firmly convinced and her commitment and courage are something we need to learn, especially when we have generally dropped our personal scruples and professional standards. Of course, there have been journalists in the country who have shown the backbone and have accepted the powers and promises of their offer and their lives.
But they are more an exception than the rule. The death of Lankesh offers us a rare moment in which we can think and examine if we conform to its demanding norms. It is the case of anyone that the positions she took were always right and, of course, there were people who did not agree with her. But it was his devotion to his conviction and his work that distinguished him and won our respect.
A true tribute to Lankesh will therefore be when we sincerely try to meet the professional standards you have established. Correspondence in conscience, ethics and commitment will be difficult, but definitely worth a try. Do not try to mean we just rip crocodile tears.