The airheads who have been accusing Gauri Lankesh of being a Naxal “sympathiser”— as if that qualifies her to be gunned down—are probably unaware of her most famous classmate at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) in Delhi.
Hear it again, Saketh Rajan.
The well-off son of a retired Army major, Saketh’s family owned Mysore’s most famous petrol pump. Saketh read the kind of books today’s journalists wouldn’t have heard (try Frantz Fanon)—and wrote books which are now prescribed textbooks.
In the mid-1980s, Saketh joined an under-construction plant on the outskirts of Mysore as a worker—incognito—and exposed the Rare Materials Plant (RMP) as “India’s Bomb Factory”, where the uranium for nuclear bombs was being enriched, for Star of Mysore.
Saketh was sadly lost to journalism, but he ended up becoming a top ideologue of the People’s War Group (PWG) of Kondapalli Seetharamaiah before he was hunted down in an “encounter” in 2005.
Former English professor V.S. Sreedhara, who was associated with Gauri Lankesh at the Karnataka Komusauharda Vedike (Communal Harmony Forum), an informal civil society group, writes in today’s Deccan Herald:
“Saketh Rajan, the Naxal leader on whose behalf she fought and earned the title of ‘Naxalite sympathiser,’ was her classmate in Delhi.
“She hardly knew him then….
“[In 2005, she] led a team of journalists and human rights activists to the interiors of Malnad to meet Naxalites and report on their demands.
“There she met Saketh Rajan again, and discovered they shared the same ideals, though they had traversed different paths.
“She was never convinced about the need for armed conflict.
“She began thinking of a space to bring the Naxals and the government to the negotiating table. The Naxal struggle, she believed, should not be seen as a resistance to deep-rooted socio-economic inequality, and not just as a law and order problem. In the process, she learnt some hard lessons about the links between communalism and globalisation, and the advances of a Fascist agenda in the guise of neo-liberalism….
“Journalists of ‘the nation wants to know’ variety are suggesting Naxals are behind her murder. They are also hinting at personal motives.
“Both conjectures are meaningless. Gauri openly supported the Naxalite cause of social justice and equity, but rejected their philosophy of armed conflict. She is not alone in this. In fact, almost all human rights organisations take this position.
“Naxals have killed ‘class enemies,’ but they have never killed anyone opposing their methods while supporting their cause.
“When Naxals kill, they always own up. At a time when their strength and influence is waning, it is unrealistic to believe they would do something that would result in so much negative publicity.”
Gauri Lankesh fell to bullets.
Saketh Rajan fell to bullets.
But much before both, in 1991, another classmate of theirs, a fine Indian Express reporter, I. Chandramouli, had met his end below the Windsor Manor bridge in Bangalore, when a truck mowed down his motorcycle as he waited for a traffic light to turn green.
What Saketh Rajan would have thought of the diploma holders, graduates and post-graduates of the “Todarmal Lane School of Embedded Journalism” labelling Gauri Lankesh as a Naxal “sympathiser” we do not know, but it is not difficult to guess.
But what Saketh Rajan would have made of their alma mater IIMC becoming a stomping ground for RSS stooges to hold yagnas, seminars on “nationalistic journalism” and adopting civil service rules to quell academic dissent, is easy to guess.
And what Saketh Rajan would have thought of today’s journalism is even easier.
In an excellent speech in Calicut last month, the longtime Doordarshan TV presenter and founder of Asianet, Sashi Kumar, said that the media in India was making the normal abnormal and the abnormal normal.
So, spreading hatred, poisoning minds, calling names, labelling people, targeting the poor and marginalised, attacking the minorities—and batting for the government, manufacturing consent and doing chamchagiri—is normal.
So, wanting social peace and communal harmony, wanting equality and justice, fighting for labour and women’s rights, exposing lies, untruths and fakery, is abnormal.
#NewIndia Mata ki Jai.
Read the full article: How Gauri changed from party-hopper to grassroots activist
Screenshot: courtesy The Hindu