Gauri Lankesh
Gauri Lankesh was murdered at her Bengaluru apartment on Tuesday, September 6.Facebook/ Kanaka Raju B

The matter came a full circle with Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's press conference on the gruesome murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh outside her own residence in Bengaluru on Tuesday, September 5. While the general perception about the murder was that Gauri was gunned down by right-wing elements for her crusade against Hindutva, Prasad passed the buck over to the Naxalites, saying they were not happy with Gauri. The central minister also took the opportunity to blast the Congress government of Karnataka as well as the vice president of the party, Rahul Gandhi, who had accused the BJP-RSS ideology of killing Gauri.

So, in a way, we have all the strands of ideology – extreme Left, centrist and right – involved in the case. While the Left and right lock horns over their political rivalry, the centrist Congress faces flak for not being able to do what it should have done – giving protection to the slain journalist. The case thus becomes a unique one that exposes the collective failure of our political system. Prasad should have done better by calling for a political consensus to crack the murder of Gauri and not made the sharp divisions in our polity prominent.

The non-alignment of the BJP and Congress govts is something which is helping criminals

Stamping it as an incident related to ideological tussle by all (pro-BJP as well as anti-BJP forces) to reach an easy conclusion is not the right thing to do. Instead, there should be a committed call to strengthen the hands of our law to bring the criminals to justice, irrespective of their ideological stands. Neither the Narendra Modi nor the Siddaramaiah government has succeeded to do that so far. And the assassins had a perfect knowledge about this, it seems.

If either Naxalites or RSS killed Gauri Lankesh, what was the intelligence doing?

As always, politics took the centrestage in this bone-chilling case as well. If the Naxalites killed Gauri, it gives rise to yet another dreadful question: Are Naxalites so powerful in a top urban centre like Bengaluru now that they can get away with a murder in the open? If the RSS-BJP affiliates killed her, yet the question arises: the Left versus right tussle now crosses boundaries and enters Karnataka? If that is the case, what are the central and state intelligence doing?

Social media trolls now gradually out of govt's control

Prasad's reaction to the murder also reveals another uncomfortable story in the making. Prasad had tweeted lambasting those right-wing bhakts who expressed happiness over Gauri's murder but it did not deter them and they hit back at the IT minister himself. This shows to what extent social media has super-empowered the trolls and it is virtually beyond the government's capacity now to control them. This is a dangerous precedent in the Indian democracy now where faceless right-wing extremists emerge as too powerful a force to resist, even by those who are in power.

The murder of Gauri Lankesh has revealed new realities of our democracy and one wonders whether we really have the skills to turn things around from here on.