A sense of solidarity, a sense of positive agony and a sense of insurgency was felt when people of various professions from across India, came together on Tuesday to march against prevailing intolerance and enmity in the country. The voices came together, echoing Bengaluru with ‘I am Gauri, we all are Gauri’ as a wake after journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh’s murder.

India is the most secular country and one of the most populous democracies – giving each citizen the right to speak and express themselves, as fundamental birth right. Over 70 years since the Constitution of India was formed, along with time, there has been evolution in the way the government works, the way politics is ‘played’, the way citizens of the country live and the way democracy works. Wistfully enough, the evolution has buried the idea of ‘right to speak freely’ under the layers of politics, intolerance and hatred. Yet, some, like Gauri spurn to be silenced by fear, they speak up and they speak up truth – loud and clear.

Being a journalist by profession and an activist by passion, Gauri Lankesh always stood up for what was true. She spoke against women abuse, child abuse, communalism and most importantly and most controversially – she hated it when anyone tried to make communalism as a symbol of nationalism – yet she never had an ill will against anyone. She stood for whatever she thought was just and humane and against all that reeked of raw greed for oppressive power. This had landed her in controversies, but Gauri had no stopping and probably that is the very reason of why she was shot in the heart by unknown assassins in dark, right in front of her home on September 5. She was a brave-heart, she may be blunt sometimes, but her intentions were never untruthful and her brutal murder shows the extent of intolerance we have gotten ourselves into.

The assassins have gunned down Gauri, they have silenced one voice of truth, but what they may have not imagined is that when one voice is silenced, thousands and thousands of others RISE. In the instant the bullets pierced her frail body a million Gauris were already born, resolving to carry on her fight, with similar courage, commitment and passion. A week after Gauri passed away, Bengaluru was echoed with the slogans of ‘Naanu Gauri, Navellaru Gaur’ (I am Gauri, we all are Gauri), emerged in anguish and grief. Progressive thinkers, social activists, political leaders, religious heads, journalists, writers, students, common men and women from across India came together on Tuesday at Central College Grounds in Bengaluru to condemn prevailing intolerance and hatred in India, and a call of justice for Gauri. This would have made Gauri’s heart filled with genuine happiness, not because thousands of people were standing for her, but as sign of hope they hold for the future.

It seemed like there was rise of insurgence against all that is wrong, that there will soon be a revolution; but unfortunately, India has seen many such rallies, protests and marches before. Gauri wasn’t the first one to be killed for standing by truth, sadly, she isn’t the last one either; and this isn’t the first time people have come together to speak up. With time, people will forget it, the marchers will get involved in their routines and so-called ‘peace’ will retain until another Gauri gets murdered. It is the melancholic side of how we ‘act’ upon such unacceptable incidents. What we all must understand is that it takes more than rallies to make a change, it takes more than wearing black batches and shouting for justice, it takes change in ourselves and change will happen when we decide to act rather than just march. Change will happen when each one of us will actually become Gauri Lankesh.

158