Thursday, September 5, marked two years since Gauri Lankesh was brutally assassinated by Hindu fundamentalists of the Sanatan Sanstha. Gauri’s incredible work, character, and relentless activism, however, will never be forgotten or silenced.
On 5th September, the members of the Feminist Collective at Ashoka University set up a stall to commemorate her and express resistance to fascism.
The members took time out of their hectic college schedules to display a thoughtful portrayal of Gauri’s life and beliefs on a whiteboard. They collated information and formatted it into colorful sections, as well as sourcing some lovely art made using her portraits. They included her writing on the assassination of MM Kalburgi by the same fundamentalist forces, and her courage in speaking against injustice no matter how powerful the perpetrators, as in the case of sexual harassment by the seer Raghaveshwara Bharati, which invited backlash from his followers. Additionally, we felt it was important to quote her comrade Jignesh Mevani, to depict how compassionate and loving she was while fighting fiercely for every cause.
September 5th also marks one month since Kashmir was put under military siege. We are committed to Kashmir in solidarity and found it fitting to express this on Gauri’s board as well. A few former members of the Collective stopped by to help write content on the board. One of them, being from Karnataka, recalled the widespread protests around Gauri’s death, and added a Kannada translation of the heading, ‘Gauri Lankesh Amar Rahe.’
On this day last year, Ashoka’s Savitribai Ambedkar Study Circle, a group now consisting mostly of alums, had screened the film Namma Gauri (Our Gauri) to commemorate the day.
Our artists created postcards that we sold, including one with a quote by Gauri and another with the slogan of the Kurdish women’s resistance – ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azaadi´(‘Women, Life, Freedom’). We are living in times of undeclared emergency where constitutional values are subverted and totalitarianism is creeping in every space of our lives. The members aöso created a space titled ‘Death to Fascism’ for people to write against fascism. This got a significant amount of responses by students, as did the Gauri board, which we shifted to a central area in front of our mess after the event ended.
Gauri’s activism is imperative to the feminist movement, as it embodies the principle of intersectional feminism, without which feminism is hollow. While we will commemorate her on this day every year, we will remember her always, and continue her fearless struggle for social justice against all oppressive power structures.
The author is a Psychology student and co-heads Feminist Collective.