The commemoration of the 56th birth anniversary of Gauri Lankesh, who was shot dead by assailants on September 5 was held at Town Hall, Bengaluru, and was witnessed by all she considered as children including MLA Jignesh, Kanhaiya, Shehla and a jam-packed audience. The event was organised by the Gauri Memorial Trust.
Gauri's sister Kavita Lankesh attended the programme, whereas brother Indrajit gave it a miss as he had arranged an alternate programme at Chamarajpet. The likes of freedom fighter HS Doreswamy, actor-activist Prakash Rai, CM Siddaramaiah's media secretary Dinesh Amin Mattu, KM Neela, activist Teesta Setalvad and also Manipur activist Irom Sharmila were present, to show their solidarity with Gauri's ideas and ideologies.
The Town Hall experienced a powerful event where people responded with enthusiasm to the appeals by speakers like Prakash Rai, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, the crowd-puller JNU's Kanhaiya Kumar, the one who doesn't like mincing words JNU's Shehla Rashid, Umer Khaleed, and the one who stopped UP CM Yogi Adityanath from entering Allahabad University campus, Richa Sharma.
Most of them stated that RSS-BJP has to be trounced. People should understand the reality and should defeat BJP in the coming elections in Karnataka.
Two books in memory of Gauri Lankesh were released on the occasion. Kanhaiya's slogan of Azadi pulled a large crowd chanting the slogan and Sheetal Sathe's 'songs for freedom' were the highlights of the event.
To help the Trust, which aims at re-starting the publication of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, which was earlier run by Gauri Lankesh, Prakash Rai bought a copy of the book at a cost of Rs 1 lakh.
Here is what the leaders expressed in their speeches.
Will be in Karnataka three weeks ahead of elections; Will join hands with Congress just to keep the fascist BJP away from the state. Let them speak about temple, love jihad etc. But we should speak about the need for employment, employment generation, and make the people, dalits understand how they are being cheated by the BJP.
I will not cry, nor have an emotional outburst on the day of my mother Gauri's birthday, post her demise. Because this is the time to think and act, just like what was practised by Gauri herself. Yes, we will break into pieces, not the nation as the BJP claims, but practices of injustice and the theories of Sangh Pariwar, which tries to divide people. The situation of every Indian is like the man who has been looted but instead of getting justice, he is made to look like a thief and a villain. Let us walk in the path traversed by mother Gauri and not become prey to the 'pure ideology' trap.
Let us not mince words, the people who killed Gandhiji in 1948 are the ones who killed Gauri Lankesh. The RSS needs to be stopped. Taking a dig at Yogi Adityanath's Karnataka visit and speech on medical conditions here, Shehla said, "People of Karnataka do not need advice from a man who was responsible for the death of nearly hundreds of children due to lack of oxygen in his state, UP. The people of Karnataka should trounce BJP in the upcoming elections."
There was also talk about Pakoda Protest, and its significance in the backdrop of PM Modi's statement. They were of the opinion that even pakoda-selling must be considered as an employment, so that tax is collected from them too.
Showing her solidarity with the event, though never had met Gauri in her lifetime, Manipur's iron lady, who fought against the draconian rule of AFSPA, Irom Sharmila, came to know about the event in the morning and travelled to Bengaluru and took part in the programme.
Is the large crowd a sign that alternate forces are getting stronger against the fascist forces in Karnataka?