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5 Excerpts From Gauri Lankesh's Writing That Show What She Stood For

The outspoken journalist frequently used her columns to call out injustice and oppression.

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Journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh was assassinated outside her home in Bengaluru yesterday. Her death has sparked international outrage and protests in many Indian cities.

As editor of the Kannada-language tabloid Lankesh Patrike, she consistently criticized extremists on the right and the left — an act which made her the target of death threats and defamation cases.

Although the majority of Lankesh's writing was in the vernacular, her columns for the Bangalore Mirror offer a unique insight into this fearless crusader's mind.

1. On patriotism:

Chandan Khanna / AFP / Getty Images

"Patriotism is not shouting 'Bharat Mata ki jai' while threatening to rape the mothers and sisters of dissenters, but having respect for women. It is not forcing 'Hindutva' on everyone, but protecting the religious, linguistic, cultural, traditional and other diversities. It is not toeing the RSS agenda but expressing the ideas of Gandhi, Ambedkar, Jotiba Phule, Periyar and others. In my view Kanhaiya and Umar are the real patriots who really care for the people of this country. After all, what is patriotism if you don't care for the people that the flag represents?"

Read more here.

2. On press freedom:

Indranil Mukherjee / AFP / Getty Images

"The issue here is the colonial legacy called ‘parliamentary privileges’ of elected representatives. This archaic law which allows law makers to become judges and sentence journalists to imprisonment should not even exist in a democracy [...] Legislators have no business to sit in judgements on journalists. It is high time they are stripped of their special privileges. If they feel they have been defamed, let them, like other ordinary citizens, take recourse to legal remedy under various sections of the CRPC. Constitutionally, that would be the right thing to do, instead of sentencing their critics under an archaic law."

Read more here.

3. On women:

Raveendran / AFP / Getty Images

"Writers of Indian history have often been unfair to women. Most of them are so obsessed about singing paeans to the ruling king that almost everything else is totally eclipsed. Even when exceptional women played a pivotal role in history, chroniclers of things past have portrayed them as benevolent or scheming Rajamaates, a faithful and pious wife who committed Sati or a royal mother hell bent on getting the throne for her progeny. Given this tendency, it is no surprise that women who did not fit into the writers' notions of political and social norms - despite their eminence - were conveniently ignored and pushed into oblivion."

Read more here.

4. On conservative culture:

Chandan Khanna / AFP / Getty Images

We Indians are not just an ignorant lot, we are also huge hypocrites. Hindus, who make up a large chunk of our population, worship in temples whose walls are adorned with erotic sculptures ranging from homosexuality to bestiality, but they look down on public display of affection (PDA). "Hugging and kissing in public is not Indian culture,'' insist the lunatics who belong to the extremist brigade.

Read more here.

5. On reservations:

Getty Images

"There are some people who argue that 'we have had 65 years of reservations. High time we got rid of it.' Sorry folks, you are wrong. The policy of reservation was introduced in this holy land of ours way back in the second century B.C. Remember that was the time when Manu laid down the law that caste was more important than merit? Manu's policy has now been put in reverse gear, that's all. Not that these last 65 years have helped the majority of the oppressed classes to snatch privilege, property and priority from the minority who have enjoyed it for hundreds of years irrespective of whether they had merit or not."

Read more here.

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