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India: More Power to the Written Word !

Sunday 8 October 2017, by siawi3


More Power to the Written Word

Written by Fr. Cedric Prakash sj

Published on: October 7, 2017

Exactly one month after the brutal murder of Gauri Lankesh, the well-known journalist and activist, thousands of citizens gathered for a massive rally in Delhi on October 5. It was truly a ‘March for Democracy ’ demanding #JusticeForGauri and for intellectuals and journalists like Narendra Dabholkar, M.M. Kalburgi, Govind Pansare , Shantanu Bhowmick and several others, who have been killed in recent times, because of their courage to stand up for truth and justice.

March For Democracy

The massive crowd comprised a large spectrum of civil society and included media personalities, human rights and social activists, students and academics, grass root workers and intellectuals. Their refrains were loud and clear ‘Protect Dissent and Democracy’, and say ‘No to Fear and Hate’. Posters and banners with slogans like “we are Gauri” and the words of Pablo Neruda “you can crush the flowers but you cannot stop the spring”, were carried by the marchers.

As if on cue, most of the so- called ‘mainstream media’ hardly gave this massive march the coverage it deserved! Several of the journalists and other media folk in India, are coopted, bought up or bamboozled into silence. Some are just frightened. Huge corporations that are in sync with a corrupt Government, through dubious ways, have taken over some of the major print and electronic media. More are apparently in the offing. There are a good many media ‘guys’ who scream themselves hoarse on their channels in efforts to mouth lies, half-truths, ‘feku-isms’ and toe the line of their political bosses.

Freedom of speech and expression is systematically being throttled in India; the marchers in Delhi, made this evidently clear to all. Few of the major newspapers in India are able to demonstrate the freedom, the courage, the objectivity and the intellectual depth which some of the US dailies do today, as they take on President Trump and his policies, incessantly. Fortunately, we still have some excellent journalists, in India today, made in the mould of Gauri, who are articulate and fearlessly take on the fascists and fundamentalists who are trying to deny the citizens of their legitimate rights.

Very significantly on October 5th ,it was announced in Stockholm that the Nobel Prize in Literature for 2017 was awarded to English author Kazuo Ishiguro “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.Ishiguro has written several best-selling novels. He also speaks plainly on critical issues. Writing a powerful op-ed in the ‘Financial Times’ (July 1st 2016) a little after the United Kingdom had decided to leave the European Union, he raises a critical question as to whether Britain had voted for xenophobia; he concludes his article saying, “we need a second referendum, for or against a “Brexit Light”, that will unite Britain around its traditional humane instincts. And to isolate the racists who today deludedly believe they have won the backing of the country’. Words certainly very applicable to the situation in India today!

More than 175 years ago ,novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his historical play of 1839, ‘Cardinal Richelieu’ wrote those immortal words, “the pen is mightier than the sword” Richelieu who was the Chief minister of King Louis XIII, discovers a plot to kill him; but he is a priest and therefore unable to take up arms against his enemies. His page, Francois, points out to him, “but now, at your command are other weapons, my good Lord”. And Richelieu readily agrees, ‘the pen is mightier than the sword... Take away the sword; States can be saved without it!”

Across the world today, several dictators, fascists, fundamentalists and totalitarian regimes are afraid of the pen and use the sword to throttle freedom of speech and expression. Journalists and others who are visible and vocal in taking a stand for truth and justice, are harassed and incarcerated; brutalized and murdered. There is however, only one way forward: more power to the word! Therein lies our hope for tomorrow!

(The author is a human rights activist)



India: Rise against the assassination of Gauri Lankesh and march for democracy (New Delhi, Oct 5, 2017)

4 October 2017

From: justice4gauri[at]

The assassination of Gauri Lankesh, two years after a similar horror was perpetrated on scholar M.M.Kalaburgi in Karnataka, is not an isolated act. The murder of rationalists Govind Pansare and Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra in the very same fashion earlier also follow the same eerie pattern. These killings are inseparable from the chain of killings of Dalits and Muslims in the name of ‘cow protection’, ‘religion’ etc. It is the dangerous continuation of the spread of right wing ideology which has started in 1990s. There have been many threats to activists who have been countering communalism, and this has continued even after her death, with the killing of Santanu Bhowmick and as seen from the way eminent Bahujan academic Kancha Iliah was grieviously threatened and even physically attacked.

As the first step in this process of building a strong resistance, we request one and all to join hands in an all India coordinated mobilization for Justice for Gauri on October 5th.

In Delhi, this mobilization will take the form of a rally on October 5th

TIME: 1 pm

PLACE: Mandi House to Jantar Mantar. [NEW DELHI]

We ask that you participate from the banners of mass organizations and social organizations. We do not wish to have any political parties attend under their banner. Please bring your own placards and banners accordingly. We ask that everyone come and march in two rows behind the main banner, and that people do not crowd around or before the main banner leading the march. The march will have only two rows starting from the very front. Please see the list of participating mass organizations at the bottom of this email and confirm that your group is listed; if not please reply to ensure inclusion. All the participating groups’ names will be called out from the stage.

All organizations are also asked to contribute to fund collection/reply immediately as it is already October 3rd. At the last meeting we agreed on Rs. 2000 per group, and we ask everyone to contribute this money at the NFIW office between 1030 am to 5 pm. The NFIW office is at 1002, Ansal Bhavan, Kasturba Gandhi Marg. Phone number is 23319541. One can also call Aruna at 9818782996, 8826350956. If not, whatsapp message Bittu at 8179542651 to set up paytm options.

We request all people to join this rally in the largest possible numbers. In several parts of India there will also be programs for Justice for Gauri on the same day. We also ask that people join the decentralized but coordinated dharnas in front of Gandhi statues/memorials or similar public places on Oct 2nd to condemn Gauri’s killing. The question is: did those who killed Gandhi kill Gauri too? The enquiry process will reveal who the perpetrators of her killing are. Meanwhile the silence of the Prime Minister on the justification and celebration of Gauri’s assassination by people who are in various ways linked to the ruling dispensation is unacceptable in a civilized society.

Being a founder member of Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike (The Communal Harmony Forum, Karnataka), Gauri Lankesh was actively involved in the resistance against reactionary forces along with other progressive sections of Karnataka who had responded pro-actively and consistently to counter the growth of such trend in the society. Yet the above assassinations and other developments clearly demonstrate that whatever has been done is just not sufficient to counter their terror. But after the killing of Gauri Lankesh a stronger reaction has come from various sections of society with whom she had pledged her solidarity, including artists (including ‘mainstream’ cinema), journalists, ex-civil service officers, legal fraternity including former judges, academicians, religious heads (especially the Viraktha Basava tradition Swamijis of Karnataka), LGBT community etc and more. Youth and students formed the major chunk of the different mobilisations against this killing. So, NOW is the time to respond. We appeal to every individual and collective, all those who think and feel for the future of humanity as a whole, to come forward and support the voice of unity for a harmonious and vibrant society.


Demand that the police investigation primarily focuses on the most probable killers and the real political actors behind them as is the normal procedure. The most probable killers here are obviously only those who were Gauri’s main adversaries, the most retrogressive forces which had threatened to kill Gauri and which have justified and celebrated her killing. We demand that the state government in Karnataka expedites action in this direction by all means.

We insist above all that it is the utmost responsibility of the offices that are supposed to safeguard the constitutional values to discharge their duty impartially. But unfortunately the present dispensation in the centre is unashamedly upholding and supporting the forces which are destroying communal harmony and democratic values that are entrenched in our society. Hence it is all the more necessary that ‘we the people of India’ apply moral and political pressure on the prevailing regime, such that an unbiased enquiry is conducted not only to arrest the criminals behind the acts but also the extra constitutional forces behind them.

Teesta Setalvad (Journalist, Activist, Educationist, Forum against the assassination of Gauri Lankesh)
Jignesh Mevani (Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, Forum against the assassination of Gauri Lankesh)
Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA, Forum against the assassination of Gauri Lankesh)
Annie Raja, NFIW
Shabnam Hashmi, Anti-communal activist
Mariam Dhawale, AIDWA
Poonam, Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan (PMS)
Ovais Sultan Khan, Anhad
Rajni Tilak, Rashtriya Dalit Mahila Andolan
Bittu, Karnataka Janashakti, WSS
Anand Patwardhan (Film maker, Forum against the assassination of Gauri Lankesh)
Irfan engineer (Anti communal activist, Forum against the assassination of Gauri Lankesh)
Narayana Rao, Telangana (Civil Liberties Committee, Forum against the assassination of Gauri Lankesh)
K. Neela (AIDWA, Forum against the assassination of Gauri Lankesh)
Vasu (Karnataka Janashakti, Forum against the assassination of Gauri Lankesh)