The CPI (M) on Wednesday condemned the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh and called on democratic forces to lodge a strong protest against what it said was "growing intolerance and hatred" in the country.
In a statement, it said Lankesh's murder "fits into a by now familiar pattern of eliminating voices that dare to speak out against the current climate of hate and intolerance by the RSS and BJP".
It said the killings of -- Govind Pansare, Dabholkar, Kalburgi and now Gauri Lankesh - "are all interconnected".
"All of them were vociferous in their opposition to superstition, obscurantism and the perpetuation of the communal agenda by the rightwing Hindutva forces," the statement said.
The party called upon the Left and democratic forces to "lodge a strong protest against this heinous murder and against the growing intolerance and hatred in the country".
Lankesh, 55, was shot dead by three unidentified men who fired seven bullets at her when she returned home from her office in Bengaluru. Two hit her in the chest and one in the forehead.
She was the editor of popular Kannada tabloid "Lankesh Patrike".
The CPI (M) Polit Bureau demanded that the Karnataka government immediately identify and arrest the culprits.
The party's trade union wing, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), strongly condemned the murder of Gauri Lankesh by "communal divisive forces".
"This murder is the latest in the series of murders of rationalists like Govind Pansare, Narendra Dhabolkar and M.M. Kalburgi by these communal divisive forces to create terror against criticism of the Hindutva communal forces and among minorities," it said in a statement.
CITU also called upon its members and the working class of the country to protest against "this heinous crime and attack on secularism".