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Gauri Lankesh Got No Naxal Hate Mail, Says Sister, Brother Clarifies Too

New Delhi:  Filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh sat forlorn and weeping yesterday by the coffin of her older sister Gauri Lankesh, struggling to come to terms with her murder by unidentified gunman outside her Bengaluru home. Today, she pulled herself together to address a press conference with their younger brother Indrajit Lankesh, who had said on Wednesday that Gauri Lankesh had got hate messages from Naxals, citing updates on the investigation into Ms Lankesh’s murder.

Kavitha said today that she does not believe Naxalites killed Gauri. Indrajit clarified that he had misunderstood what Karnataka’s home minister Ramalinga Reddy was reported to have said on a possible Naxal link. Gauri Lankesh had worked extensively to rehabilitate Maoists as part of her Communal Harmony Forum.

At the press conference Kavitha Lankesh said, “There were no mails from Naxalites at all.” To NDTV, she said, “I think basically…I would like to say right-wing activism because her own ideology was dead against them. I don’t know, I don’t know, it is not personal I know. It is basically killing a thought. They wanted to kill a thought, kill a movement. I don’t want to pinpoint right now. But from her writing, whoever is against her ideology has killed her.”

She said she had met people who Gauri had helped rehabilitate and stated, “People think, social media has created something that naxalites are terrorists…It’s not so. They have their own fight, their own causes. And she has supported them – and she said be non-violent. Come to the mainstream. Gandhi did the same thing. Leave your violence, come Ahimsa’s way. I am not comparing her to Gandhi. One small bit she has done.”

“She succeeded in bringing a couple of them from naxalism to the mainstream. For that, she was getting some hate mails, hate letters,” Indrajit Lankesh told NDTV.

We asked Indrajit if he thought it might be Maoists behind his sister’s death. He said, “It might be, it might not be. It might be the right wing extremists or it might be the Maoists because of the background.”

Kavitha said that while Gauri had differences with Indrajit, the family is united in their demand for a swift investigation into her murder.

Gauri, she said, had spoken to their mother about spotting someone near her house, where she lived alone. “With us the only slight indication she had given was that on Sunday that someone was lurking around suspiciously in front of the house. “We told her to ask the Chief Minister for some security, but she said, ‘I have never asked the CM for anything, why would I need this?'”

The family hopes investigation into Gauri’s murder will not flounder as it has in the 2015 murder of rationalist and scholar MM Kalburgi, who was shot dead at his house in Dharwad in north Karnataka two years ago. There is no breakthrough in that case yet.

“We want to be optimistic, rather than pessimistic and say we are jumping to the CBI right now…if it doesn’t happen we will fight for justice to the end.” Chief Minister Siddaramiah has set up a 17-member special investigation team to probe Gauri Lankesh’s shocking murder.

“She was a very warm human being. Even when she wrote ideologically what she felt…when somebody wrote a hate mail she would say, it is okay my son, you are entitled to your opinion. She would say such sweet things…Her life was upliftment of society,” said Kavitha who is younger than Gauri.

She said she was very moved by the tributes that have flowed in for her sister from around the country. “With the kind of pain after her death day before yesterday, I was really in turmoil. But it helped me to see the people who walked in to bid her goodbye. I was proud of her. I never imagined the kind of support – the people who called her mother, sister. Prayed to her, kissed her. From bus drivers, top film personalities, literary persons, they came from all walks of life. My mother was surprised – I told her, you must be proud of her,” she said.