-Zenia Zuraiq, I Year B.Sc Physics
On September 5th 2017, Gauri Lankesh, Indian journalist-turned-activist, was shot to death by unknown assailants outside her home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Bangalore. Lankesh, the editor of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a weekly Kannada tabloid in an interview with The Wire said that she was “concerned about the state of freedom of expression in the country”.
The day she was gunned down was Teacher’s Day, and as it happens, this event has taught us a lot about how we, as a country, work and how we, as a country, would rather speak with bullets.
‘Freedom of Speech’ has been downgraded to no more than an offhanded comeback for when someone criticizes your view. Because we’re all staunch believers in this fundamental right as long as the speech in question matches your beliefs.
Democracy, you say? For the people, you say? And yet, here are people being gunned down outside their own homes for what they believe – for speaking their mind. We have no open minds here, just empty hearts. Hollow minds. Minds that are open to the one true opinion, my opinion, and ‘don’t say I’m wrong, because I’ll kill you if you do!’
What a world we live in.
There has been a lot of talk about Gauri’s beliefs and political leanings, but the truth is, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what political ideology Gauri identified herself with. Nothing can justify this cold blooded murder, and nothing should. She had the right to voice her opinion, not the right to have her life stolen away for it.
Yes, Gauri used her voice. And the truth is, we’re all Gauri. We’re all carriers of powerful minds that are so prone to getting infected by ideas that cannot be tolerated. We’re all prone to wanting to be heard – prone to using our voice. And in this cacophony of voices there’s always going to be disagreement. But that’s what democracy is about, it’s about meaning in that crazy mix of different voices.
And so the question is, what are we left with if we erase some of those voices? And honestly, I don’t want to answer that anytime soon. We, as a nation, must not answer it anytime soon.
So, let us remember this voice. Gauri’s voice. The voice of an extremely strong, fierce woman who wasn’t afraid to speak up. A woman who didn’t believe in shrinking in the shadows but wearing her opinionated heart on her sleeve. A woman who stood by what she believed, brave and bold.
I’d like everyone to be aware of this important event. September 5th 2017. The day we as a country, as a democracy, hung ourselves. The rope of “intolerance” tightens. India can’t breathe.
Loosen the noose, everybody.
Rest in Peace, Gauri.