On January 29, 2022, Gauri Lankesh would have turned 60. But today we are left with a void that is hard to fill. The fearless journalist was snatched away from us on September 5, 2017, when right-wing cowards assassinated her in cold blood outside her Bengaluru home. But as anyone who knew Gauri would tell you, she had a light of her own. That light shines bright even today, inspiring countless people to fight for their rights.
That is why Gauri Memorial Trust (GMT) and Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) are organising an online memorial for Gauri Lankesh where a plethora of activists, journalists and strong, confident women will pay a tribute to the slain journalist and share their own journeys and experiences in the face of adversity.
Literary critic and cultural activist Ganesh Devy will deliver the opening remarks followed by two Gauri Memorial Lectures: one in Kannada by Prof. A Narayana, Dept of Political Philosophy, Azim Premji University, and the other in English by Teesta Setalvad, who wears many hats as a journalist, human rights defender, educationist and secretary of CJP… but most importantly as someone who was a close friend of Gauri Lankesh.
“Hate is now not just a political tool for mobilisation but a Project to transform the very fundamental s and nature of the Indian state,” says Setalvad. “The political formation in power, its vigilante organisations and brown shirts are mentally and physically armed through hate propaganda to violently harm religious minorities, women, Dalits targets. This is a challenge to each one of us as citizens, to stop this Hate, build resistance to its corrosive and organised power and to challenge and ensure that Indian Institutions of Democracy, such as they are, do the same,” she elaborates.
Setalvad has led a decades long campaign against Hate via a multitude of initiatives such as helping set up Mohalla Committees, providing legal assistance to survivors and families of victims of hate crimes and communal violence, inclusive education projects like Khoj, and also publications like Communalism Combat and SabrangIndia. CJP is today continuing the same legacy for fostering harmony and empowering the disempowered and the oppressed.
Following this, there will be a panel discussion by author and senior journalist Saba Naqvi who has herself found herself in the regime’s crosshairs on various occasions, simply for doing her job – speaking truth to power. Panelists include:
Arfa Khanum (Journalist and Presenter)
Ismat Ara (Journalist, The Wire)
Noor Mahvish (Law student)
RJ Sayema (Radio Presenter, Artist )
Safoora Zargar (Scholar and Activist)
All these women have been targetted, time and again, for their rationalism and fearlessness.
Arfa Khanum is not new to scathing attacks by trolls who target her for being not only a fearless journalist, but also an outspoken Muslim woman.
Ismat Ara was not only targetted for her story exposing a possible cover-up by the regime, she along with Noor Mahvish and RJ Sayema, also found herself in a list of Muslim women whose images and Twitter handles were uploaded to an online “auction” app. Ths despicable list also included the names of mothers and grandmothers, including that of Fatima Nafees, mother of missing JNU student Najeeb Ahmed!
Safoora Zargar spent months behind bars, merely for exercising her right to protest peacefully; a heartless and vindictive regime didn’t even take into consideration that she was pregnant at the time and only granted her bail months later.
All of them have two things in common – they are women, and they are Muslims. It appears that trolls and “Trads” cannot stand the idea of a strong, confident Muslim woman who fearlessly speaks her mind.
But what is truly commendable is that none of them have given up and all of them are still going strong. They are clearly the new generation that has taken the baton from Gauri Lankesh and who will fearlessly continue to expose the culture of Hate and how it’s flames are being fanned directly or indirectly by a divisive regime.
Join us to hear them share their stories at 7 PM. Details below: