Journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh was shot dead outside her home in Rajarajeshwari Nagar, south-west Bengaluru, on Tuesday night. She was returning home from work when she was gunned down by three men on a motorcycle between 7.45 pm and 8 pm, police said.
Lankesh, 55, editor of Kannada tabloid `Gauri Lankesh Patrike', had parked her white car outside the gate of her residence and was walking to the main entrance when the attackers fired at least seven rounds. As she ran to the door, three bullets hit Lankesh on the head, neck and chest, while four struck the front wall of the house. Lankesh died instantly, police said.
The cold-blooded killing of the 55-year-old writer who took right-wing politics head-on in Karnataka brought back memories of the murders of writer M M Kalburgi in Dharwad in 2015, communist leader Govind Pansare the same year in Kolhapur and rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in Pune in 2013.
“I am deeply shocked. I have no clue who has done this,“ said Indrajit Lankesh, her filmmaker brother who was among the first persons to arrive at the spot.
Residents of an apartment complex in front of her house where Lankesh lived alone alerted the police. Cops from nearby stations, including Kengeri, RR Nagar, Byatarayanapura, Chandra Layout and Kamakshipalya, were rushed to the spot. Within an hour, hundreds of people had gathered at the spot and raised slogans against communal elements even as her body was taken away to Victoria Hospital for autopsy .
“Gauri's killing has parallels with Kalburgi's killing. We have formed three teams to hunt the killers. She had called me last Thursday and said she wanted to meet me. She was to meet me on Monday but she never turned up.She had received no threat calls,“ home minister Ramalinga Reddy told reporters.
Gauri, the oldest of three children of acclaimed Kannada writer-journalist P Lankesh, graduated from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi, and started her career with The Times of India. She is survived by her sister, filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh, brother Indrajit Lankesh and mother Indira.
Lankesh worked with various publications, including Sunday magazine, and later for a Telugu TV channel in New Delhi. She returned to Bengaluru and started her own tabloid Gauri Lankesh Patrike in 2005. Her outspokenness put her in the limelight and in conflict with the authorities and right-wing conservative forces.