Thousands of people took to the streets of Bengaluru on Tuesday for the “I am Gauri - Save democracy” rally. Writers, thinkers, social activists, journalists, people's forums and activists of various political organisations from across the country joined the protest rally. Participants in the protest raised slogans such as "Gauri Lankesh Amar Rahe" (Long Live Gauri Lankesh), 'I am Gauri, We are Gauri'. They demanded justice for senior journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh who was gunned down a week ago.
On the night of September 5, the 55-year-old editor of Kannada tabloid Gauri Lankesh Patrike was gunned down outside her home in the city's southwest suburb by unknown assailants.
More than ten thousand people marched from the city's railway station to the Central College Grounds, where a protest meeting was held. They all wore black head bands that read "I am Gauri",
The rally, organised by the progressive forum "Gauri Lankesh Hatya Virodhi Vedike", witnessed the presence of people from different walks of life. The protesters were seen singing songs and demanded that Lankesh's assailants be punished.
At the protest rally, Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “I'm here as a foot soldier of Indian democracy and idea of India. It isn't abstract. It's concrete and alive. It can coexist only if there is an opportunity to discuss and debate without bullets to kill. The battle of ideas is the idea of India. My India doesn't remain if it is killed by bullets.”
"A totalitarian state is being created and this is not the idea of the state which India dreams”, he added.
Writer Chandrashekar Patil has read out a poem as a tribute to Gauri. “A few years ago, I was Dabholkar... then, Pansare. And, two years ago, when my classmate, colleague and comrade M.M. Kalburgi was assassinated, I became Kalburgi. Now, I’m Gauri,” he said.
Social activist Medha Patkar, journalists P. Sainath, Siddarth Varadarajan and Sagarika Ghose, Swaraj India leaders Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, documentary film makers Anand Patwardhan and Rakesh Sharma, and civil rights activists Teesta Setalvad, Kavita Krishnan and Jignesh Mevani also took part in the rally to register their dissent.
A special edition of Lankesh Patrike was also released at the protest event.
Earlier, while announcing Tuesday’s convention, senior Kannada writer K. Marulasiddappa said “The message that the killers of Gauri wanted to send us, progressive thinkers and democrats, was that we should shut up or face consequences. But we need to tell them in clear voice that we are not afraid and we will exercise our constitutional right to free expression.”