Gauri Lankesh, an Indian journalist and activist well known for her opposition to right-wing Hindu nationalism was shot and killed as she returned from work to her home from work on Tuesday night.
Police have confirmed with reporters that Lankesh, who was 55, was shot four times at close range by at least three attackers at around 8 PM as she entered her house. It is suspected that the assailants either followed her home, or waited at her house for her to return.
Lankesh was the editor of an independent newspaper called Lankesh Patrike, which was founded by her father who was a progressive poet and author. Previously she had worked for The Times of India.
On Wednesday morning, police announced that a man named Sandeep had been taken into custody under suspicion of involvement in the shooting, after it was discovered he had recently made threatening comments on Lankesh's Facebook page.
The well-known journalist had previously faced threats through social media. She was also currently out on bail after being sentenced to six months for “defamation” after publishing a damning report on local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders.
“She has faced a lot of threats. If you see her social media profile, there are constant threats from right wing forces whom she strongly opposed all her life. She was reluctant and did not care too much for her personal safety. There were also some incidents of theft at the home a while ago so we forced her to set up some security cameras and we are hoping that it will yield some results because they were on when the incident occurred,’’ Shivasundar, a journalist colleague of Lankesh said according to Indian Express.
In an interview with Newslaundry last year, Lankesh said that the “rabid hate” she experiences is due to her critique of Hindu nationalist politics.
“My criticism of Hindutva politics and the caste system... makes my critics brand me as a Hindu hater. But I consider it my constitutional duty to continue – in my own little way – the struggle of Basavanna and Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar towards establishing an egalitarian society,” she said.
“Unfortunately, today anybody talking in support of human rights and against fake encounters [extrajudicial killings] is branded a Maoist supporter,” she said, referencing the Communist Party of India (Maoist) group, also known as the “Naxalites,” active in some parts of India.
“The silencing of a journalist in this manenr has dangerous portents for Indian democracy,” the Indian Women Press Corps said in a condemning statement.