By Chris Emmanuel D'Souza

Sep 9: On September 5, at about 8 in the night, three unidentified gunmen shot seven rounds of bullets killing the noted writer-poet, activist and a fierce journalist Gauri lankesh, sending shock waves across the country. These kinds of organized and cowardly assassination of thinkers, writes, intellectuals, academicians, rationalists and the voices of reason, seems like a strong beginning of a growing trend in the modified India. Post Independence, India with Nehru's secular and pluralistic ideals, that shaped the nation’s ethos for the next sixty odd years, there was never a time, where lives of journalists and the intellectual community was deemed to be as seriously in danger.

We do not have to look at Pakistan and Bangladesh anymore, and cringe reading about the treatment of minorities, murder of activists and journalists and the spate of violence, when all this mirrors in our own country right before our noses. Gauri Lankesh has made fiery speeches and statements against communal forces nationwide, some of her remarks were made in a bad taste, and I mostly disagreed with her, her words were sharp as a spade, her rage was filled with passion, at times very hard to digest. Her father P Lankesh too was an outspoken activist and relentlessly opposed castiesm in the country, many of his friends feared for his life.

But then, we are living in an open, free democracy. We are free to express our thoughts, opinions and ideas, and have the right to oppose and argue. As French ideologue Voltaire said, 'I may not agree with what you say, but I would defend to death, your right to say it'! The Constitution gives us the right to hold our views, to share it and the freedom of conscience, the sacred commandment that has nurtured the country over the years.

Over the last few years, when such ghastly acts of slaughter and murder in broad daylight have taken place around the country, the Indian media has chosen to be a silent spectator and some have shed their shame and moral values and have appointed themselves to be the cheerleaders of the Prime Minister, his high-energy right hand man and his colourful cabinet.

What may have caused the spate of such threats and murders on the intellectual community in the recent times?
There is considerable poisoning on the internet, social media and in the local evening papers. But then, unlike the previous decades, a large section of the people in the country have developed a substantial dosage of barbarism and sadism in their blood; a kind of blood that blots out their humanity and drugs them to slaughter an innocent soul merely to derive pleasure and to thump their chest of nationalism; and the blood that has given them the confidence in our new impotent media, sneaky politicians, degenerate Police department and the contaminated judiciary, that will eventually shield their evil deeds.

Since 2013 there has been a systematic and an organised strategy to eliminate voices of sanity and reason in the country. And among all those murders and the attempts, no assailant has neither been captured nor accused. TV media seemed to have made some noises initially, but then to keep their ratings in tact, decided to look the other way. A few moths ago eminent rationalist Narendra Nayak had an attempted attack.

Has anyone questioned the lack of efforts taken by the Karnataka government in nabbing these murderers? The Congress party is supposed to be secular and should have been in the forefront in curbing these crimes and safeguarding intellectuals of the state. But then, what will the government achieve? Nothing. Are the lives of precious writers, poets, novelists, academicians, activists and journalists worth a Vote in the upcoming elections? Thus, investigations get prolonged, as the clueless police keep performing Animal sacrifices to gather leads, as they yawn, scratch their heads and prickle their noses on their way to hunt down criminals.

It is very hard to see a political party daring to take a chance, by doing the right thing, as the whole country is polarised on religious and sectarian differences. After all, why do the right thing? For a better saner rationale society? is that what a political party desires? No, not at all. Will Siddaramaiah go after Gauri Lankesh's assassins? Let us pretend and keep waiting.

The murder of Gauri Lankesh will further push back those brave voices in vehemently opposing and criticizing communal and anti-social elements in the country and would discourage many writers and thinkers from opposing undemocratic and exclusive government policies that may harm the unity of the nation. The space for freedom of expression is shrinking, as most prominent journalists are in the payroll of the government and those that are not are being finished at gun point. As the Indian dream starts melting, the constitution gets ripped into pieces and the democracy explodes into ashes, we may then be left with an only hope to save our country – hope itself!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the above article are solely those of the author