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Brother Of Slain Journalist And Hindutva Critic Gauri Lankesh Was Once Tipped To Join The BJP

"Whoever it may be, I just want justice," says Indrajit Lankesh.

07/09/2017 11:50 AM IST | Updated 07/09/2017 11:56 AM IST
Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah speaks to Indrajit brother of the slain journalist Gauri Lankesh as her mortal remains kept at Town hall on September 6, 2017 in Bengaluru, India.

Indrajit Lankesh, brother of slain journalist Gauri Lankesh, who was known for her trenchant criticism of the Hindu Right, was tipped to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A report in The New Indian Express, published in July, quoted him on his intention to join politics, especially the saffron party.

"As of now I am just known to be aligned to BJP's ideology, of course, [BS] Yeddyurappa and Narendra Modi's leadership has inspired me to join politics," Indrajit said. "It is just a thought now, and it is too early to give any kind of confirmation," he added for good measure.

He had even gone to the extent of comparing Yeddyurappa with Basavanna, the iconic 12th-century reformer, who is revered in Karnataka.

Since Tuesday, when his sister was killed by assassin as she was about to enter her home, Indrajit seems to have changed his mind. He denied his earlier wish to join politics to The India Today, maintaining that he is a director first and will remain so.

It is well-known though that the siblings didn't see eye to eye in matters of ideology. Indrajit, who is a reputed director in the Kannada film industry, fell out with Gauri over editorial policies while the two were managing their late father's news magazine Lankesh Patrike.

READ: Undaunted Till The End, Gauri Lankesh Will Be Remembered For Her Gutsy Journalism

Their differences went so deep that five years after taking over the paper after P Lankesh's death in 2000, brother and sister decided to end their collaboration. Indrajit told NDTV the two reached a tipping point when Gauri wanted to publish an article about Naxal leader Saket Ranjan. He flatly refused to run the interview.

In 2005, Gauri started her own journal Gauri Lankesh Patrike, where she continued to publish investigative stories. Alongside journalism, she also worked tirelessly as an activist, spending precious years trying to rehabilitate former Naxals into society.

Speaking to The Times of India, Indrajit expressed apprehension over alleged death threats that his sister is believed to have received from Naxalites, who were displeased with her work with those who had lapsed from the ideology.

"It is my personal opinion that Naxals were unhappy with my sister bringing many people from their cadres into the mainstream. The feeling became strong after she managed to bring Sirimane Nagaraj, a prominent Naxalite leader, into the mainstream," he said.

READ: Journalists Writing In Indian Languages Face Greater Risks Than Those In The English Media

However, their other sibling, Kavita Lankesh, who is also a film-maker but has never been directly involved in the running of Lankesh Patrike, denied her brother's suspicions.

"He has no clue about the Naxals. Gauri worked for the Naxals for years together and against the Sangh Parivar," she told The Time of India.

Oddly enough, Gauri never mentioned any death threats to either her family or even to politicians like Siddaramaiah, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, who she had recently met for a good two hours.

Since Gauri's murder, Indrajit has urged the Congress government in Karnataka to pass the investigation on to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). "Whoever it may be, I just want justice. If the right-wing people are behind this, I want the police to catch them and bring them to justice. My sister has been murdered and all I want is justice," he told The Times of India.

Over the last two years, rationalists MM Kalburgi, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare were killed in nearly identical ways like Gauri Lankesh but little progress has been made in their cases, in spite of the Karnataka government linking all these murders.

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