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Gauri Lankesh’s death has left behind key lessons. Lessons which starkly convey the rot of fundamentalist mindset that is fast spreading in the country.

Since the General elections in 2014 this year, an atmosphere is being built that conveys that pluralistic, diverse thinking is not permissible, that if you hold contrarian views that question the ways and deeds of those in power, then, in all likelihood, you will be hounded.

That there can be social media trolls that go out of your life, abuse you in vilest of terms, that not just attempt to assassinate your character but also of your family members. These paid trolls have resources at their command and a vocabulary filled with expletives to take on those who they believe are inimical to the interests of their political masters. We live in an era where fake news is being spread around and post truth has gained momentum in an alarming manner.

However, Gauri Lankesh never gave two hoots you any of it. She used to be one feisty, fiery woman ready to take on the rogue, hardliners with her pen. Words are what she had to counter the vitriolic being dished out in the name of nationalism. She, like several in the profession, have decided to not let things lie down, despite the immense pressure. Those who have been rattled by the power of pen strong enough to expose their misdeeds and rotten thinking want to scuttle the freedom of expression, if not directly then through their cronies, who have spread like moth. But little do they know that they may crush can crush the bodies but the spirit will leave on. That India has had a long and chequered history of men and women taking upon themselves that the ideals espoused by this proud democracy are upheld.

Whether it be a Gauri Lankesh, a Kalburgi or a Dabholkar each of these lives must not go in vain. The current crop must know that we shall be staring down the barrel if each of us do not take up the cudgels and fight against the dictatorial ways of a regime bent upon subverting the freedom of speech, one of the foundations on which the pillars of democracy were built by the founders of this great nation.

Today, it’s not just journalists but every rational thinking person who is under threat. And it would be extremely foolhardy and ostrich – like to believe that these are isolated incidents and nothing will happen to us, that this does not affect us. Democracy today is under siege and it needs us to fight for it. If we do not, rest assured, we will no longer be able to value it the way we have done it for long.

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