Senior Kannada journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh, known for her left-leaning outlook and forthright views against Hindutva politics, was shot dead by unidentified assailants at her residence here today, police said.
Gauri, aged 55, had returned home in her car and was opening the gate when motorcycle-borne assailants fired at her indiscriminately with two bullets hitting her in the chest and one on her forehead, police officials said.She died instantaneously.
Four bullets hit the compound wall of her building in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, the officials said.
Gauri edited Kannada tabloid 'Gauri Lankesh Patrike' besides owning some other publications and was known for her forthright views against hardline Hindutva politics.
Bengaluru police commissioner T Sunil Kumar, along with senior police officers, rushed to the spot and officials said it was not immediately known who carried out the attack and the motive behind it.
Police suspected that she was under surveillance of the assailants who must have trailed her closely. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah termed her death shocking. Close family sources but have claimed that Gauri Lankesh had received life threat a month ago from unidentified people over the phone. She shared had this information with her friend BT Lalitha Naik. Naik had even asked her to file a complaint with police but Gauri hadn't done so as she did not take the threat seriously. "We are not going to leave you. We will kill you, " they had said.
The chief minister said three police teams have been constituted to probe the killing. Instructions have been issued to crack the case and bring the culprits to book at the earliest, he said.
He said recently Gauri had been instrumental in bringing Naxalites into the mainstream and they had surrendered.
"It's shocking news for me. No one who has faith in humanity will ever kill anyone. Gauri Lankesh was secular and helped the government bring the Naxals back to the mainstream," said Siddaramaiah.
Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy drew parallels between the gunning down of Gauri and rationalists Narendra Dabholkar and M M Kalburgi, allegedly by fringe Hindu groups. Dabholkar was shot dead in August 2013, while Kalburgi was gunned down in August 2015.
"Who is behind the incident, is it the Naxals or any other ideological fringe parties were behind the incident will be known only after investigation. It is very premature to hold anybody responsible for the incident," Reddy said.
Siddaramaiah also said he has asked the police to get in touch with their Maharashtra counterparts probing the murder of Dabholkar.
Gauri was a journalist-activist, known for her anti-establishment, pro-poor and pro-Dalit stand.
Among very few woman editors in Kannada journalism, she was a fierce activist, who openly expressed her pro-Naxal and Leftist views.
Born in 1962, Gauri was the daughter of legendary Kannada journalist and founding editor of Kannada weekly tabloid 'Lankesh Patrike'.
Her siblings -- Kavitha and Indrajit Lankesh -- are film and theatre personalities.
Gauri Lankesh had been the voice of Naxals and Dalits. She had earned the ire of the State machinery for being a Naxal sympathiser. She was the member of the Naxal rehabilitation committee and had played a crucial role in bringing a few of them to the mainstream.
She had strongly opposed the controversial practice, 'Made Made Snana' practised at Kukke Subrahmanya temple. Her death is similar to the way writer and rationalist Dr MM Kalaburagi was shot dead at his residence in Dharwad, two years ago.
Gauri Lankesh is the daughter of well-known journalist P Lankesh. She is survived by Lankesh Paper Editor and brother Indrajit Lankesh and film-maker sister Kavitha Lankesh
(With PTI inputs)