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Indian journalist critical of Hindu extremists is shot dead in Bangalore

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Police say Gauri Lankesh was shot and killed by three assailants as she was entering her home,

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A senior Indian journalist and activist has been shot dead outside her home in Bangalore.

Gauri Lankesh was the editor of a Kannada-language tabloid that has frequently been critical of Hindu extremists.

Police said Lankesh, who was in her 50s, was shot by three assailants as she was entering the property on Tuesday evening and died shortly after. Officers said it was too early to speculate on the motive.

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A small group of protesters formed outside her home as news of the killing spread.

Lankesh was known as a fierce critic of Hindu nationalist organisations in her state and was convicted of defamation last year for a piece accusing members of the Bharatiya Janata party of theft. She was appealing against the decision.

She told the Indian website Newslaundry last year that the “rabid hate” directed at her online had made her fear for the state of free expression in India.

“Unfortunately, today anybody talking in support of human rights and against fake encounters [extrajudicial killings]is branded a Maoist supporter,” she said.

“Along with that, my criticism of Hindutva politics and the caste system … makes my critics brand me as a Hindu hater. But I consider it my constitutional duty to continue – in my own little way – the struggle of Basavanna and

Dr [Bhimrao Ramji] Ambedkar towards establishing an egalitarian society,” she said.

The Press Club of India said in a statement that it believed the murder was linked to Lankesh’s work.

“A fearless and independent journalist who gave voice to many causes and always stood up for justice has been shot dead in the most brutal manner in order to silence her voice,” it said.

Whatever differences she had with anyone, it was certainly not the way to attack an outspoken journalist who was defenceless and had nothing to offer by way of resistance. Such attacks on the freedom of press will not be tolerated.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a report last year that 27 journalists had been killed “with complete impunity” in India since 1992. It listed another 25 murders it was investigating to ascertain a connection to the journalist’s work.

Two years ago in the same state, Karnataka, an outspoken scholar and critic of religious groups, MM Kalburgi, was also shot dead by unidentified assailants.

(credits: Michael Safi, guardian.co.uk )

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