"Her spirit is all around me but her presence is not there," said Kavitha Lankesh, sister of slain firebrand journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh. The year leading to the first death anniversary of her sister has been difficult, Kavitha told the media at Bengaluru’s Maurya Circle during protests demanding the ban on Hindutva outfit Sanathan Sanstha.
Kavitha was walking in a march attended by a large gathering of activists who had assembled in protest against Gauri’s cold-blooded murder on September 5, 2017. The demonstrators were led by dignitaries from across the country including social activist Swami Agnivesh, lawyer Teesta Setalvad, journalist Siddharth Varadarajan.
“It has been very difficult on the personal front, but at the same time Gauri has immersed me with a lot of commitments. It feels as if she is everywhere but not here. I am immersed and surrounded by her every day,” she said.
Gauri, a staunch critic of hardline Hindutva and editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike was shot at point-blank range outside her house in Ideal Homes Layout in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, which killed her instantly. The murder, similar to the methods employed in the case of like minded people like Pansare, Dabholkar, Kalburgi, had evoked reactions of shock, despair and anger.
Following the murder, then-CM SIddaramaiah had constituted a special investigation team to probe the murder and one year since then, police claim that they have got their man after a series of arrests.
SIT claims that they have enough evidence to prove that Parashuram Waghmore killed Gauri in court.
Kavitha said she was happy with the investigations. “They have been doing a wonderful job. The SIT has struggled hard. I should thank Mr Siddaramaiah for this. He constituted this team and then all of them have been working diligently without any bias. Considering CBI has not been able to crack the Dhabolkar case, it's the SIT that is doing some. We always suspected that all the four murders are connected and I think it will get revealed soon,” she said.
Later in the evening, she told a gathering at Jnana Jyoti Auditorium, "Whenever people ask me to talk about Gauri, I tear up. I can't control it. We have found that Hindu Janajagruthi Samiti and Sri Rams Sene were involved and it pains me a lot. I speak a lot with Hamid Dabholkar and Megha Pansare. We find solace in the fact that we are the families of victims. I find comfort in their belief."
She continued, "Last week when Varavara and other rationalists were arrested, I felt like Gauri would be targeted too if she was alive. So would my father. Branding rationalists as Naxals is shocking. It made me realise that we live in dangerous times. I feel very scared at times. "
On Wednesday, a large number of people across the state and country had gathered in a march from Maurya Circle to the Raj Bhavan as a mark of protest.
The delegation on Wednesday was led by freedom fighter HS Doreswamy, playwright Girish Karnad, social activist Swami Agnivesh, actor Prakash Raj, lawyer Teesta Setalvad, journalist Siddharth Varadarajan, writer Chandrashekar Patil among others.
Also present were Gujarat MLA and Dalit activist Jignesh Mewani, student leader Umar Khalid, Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike president KL Ashok, Dinesh Amin Mattu, and rationalist Narendra Naik.
"I am glad that even after a year, Gauri's voice has not died. I am happy that so many people have kept her alive