Gauri Lankesh headed a team of people that worked extensively for bringing naxals to the mainstream. “She succeeded in bring a couple of them from naxalism to the mainstream. For that, she was getting some hate mails, hate letters,” Mr Lankesh told NDTV, adding quickly that this was one of the angles that the police were working on.
On Tuesday evening, Gauri Lankesh had just got out of her car and entered her Bengaluru home at around 8 when she was shot dead. CCTV footage shows a man wearing a helmet walks up to her and fires.
A fierce activist who openly spoke for those on the margins, Ms Lankesh did not tell her family about the threats. “She never told me, my mother, sister,” he said, adding that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told him that he had recently met Gauri Lankesh for over two hours.
“Even in that meeting, Gauri never told the Chief Minister that she is being threatened, that she is getting these hate mails,” he said.
It was differences over her activism and pro-naxal stand that led to Gauri Lankeshs differences with her brother, and eventually to her exit as editor of the Lankesh Patrike; her brother was the paper’s proprietor and publisher. Ms Lankesh went on to start her own Kannada tabloid Gauri Lankesh Patrike in 2005.
Mr Lankesh said an article that she wanted published about naxal leader Saket Ranjan was the tipping point. He refused to publish the interview.
“We had our ideological differences,” he told NDTV but repeatedly underlined how he was proud and admired his sister.
“She was a firebrand and stuck to her ideology and I respected her ideology of the Left but it doesn’t mean that I agreed with her ideology,” Mr Lankesh, who has demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation to punish his sister’s killers, said.
The murder has revived memories of the 2015 murder of MM Kalburgi, the 77-year-old former vice chancellor of Hampi University and the failure of the police to make any arrests in this case, piling more pressure on the Karnataka police to hunt her killers.
Mr Lankesh cited the poor police track record in the Kalburgi killing to demand that the Central Bureau of Investigation rather than state police probe his sister’s killing. On Wednesday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced a special investigation team to probe Gauri Lankesh’s killers.