Within hours of the murder of veteran journalist and activist Gauri Lankesh Tuesday night, protests and demonstrations were organised across the country. In Bengaluru, a large, eclectic group gathered on the steps of the Townhall, a city landmark and popular protest site. Lankesh’s friends and those familiar with her work led the protest, of course, but the crowd also comprised people who barely knew the journalist but shared her ideals.

For many among them, the protest was simply against the stifling of dissenting voices in the country. They saw Lankesh’s murder as part of a plan to eliminate or intimidate the free-spirited voices unafraid of standing up for secular and progressive ideals.

Scroll.in spoke to a few of them to understand what brought them to Townhall on Wednesday morning.

Mitra, works at a research organisation

Mitra is the son of a journalist. Photo credit: Archana Nathan

“This is a time when dissenting voices are getting silenced. The silence is already everywhere – within our families, in our society, in our state. We need to have difficult conversations now, more so those who come from privileged backgrounds. I count myself in that. We need to talk about patriarchy, caste etc. I think this is why I have come here. This incident has also made me aware that I need to keep up with local politics. My dad is a journalist and growing up, I did hear a lot about the value of Lankesh Patrike. Now, I am keen on reading Gauri Lankesh Patrike.”

Chitra and Harshini, journalism students

Chitra and Harshini study journalism in Bengaluru. Photo credit: Archana Nathan

“We are final year journalism students. After a year, we will also be in the field. Is this the future we are going to step into? We want justice for Gauri Lankesh. We want justice for all of us. When we heard about the incident last night, we volunteered to come here. Our teachers encouraged us to come. What is the point of studying journalism without standing up for its freedom?”

Aparna, member of All India Mahila Samskrutika Sanghatane

Aparna isn't too familiar with Gauri Lankesh's work. Photo credit: Archana Nathan

“I am not too familiar with her writing. But I have heard she upheld progressive ideas throughout her life. It is painful to see that instead of debating ideas, people are resorting to murder. We cannot accept this. As people of Karnataka, we would like to know who is behind this crime and why.”

Madhuri, member of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan, Madhya Pradesh

Madhuri believes it is time for the silent majority to stand up. Photo credit: Archana Nathan

“I am not a Kannada speaker. I haven’t read her writings in Kannada but I have been familiar with translations and her work in English. I’m familiar with the impact she has had and her continuous activism. In the liberal, progressive circles, at least, all of us across the country are familiar with her work. And it is her valuable work that they her killed for. Obviously, we are not going to take this lying down. And we are going to fight back. It gets more urgent now. Also, very clearly, this is an attack by communal and casteist forces. They are both trying to disturb Karnataka and the entire country. It is an attack on all of us – including the silent majority that needs to stand up. This has happened because people are silent. Now, we need to wake up. If this can happen today, then anything can happen tomorrow.”