An office bearer of the Bharatiya Janata Party Yuva Morcha sent a legal notice to historian Ramachandra Guha on Monday, accusing him of defamation for referring to the “Sangh Parivar” in connection with the murder of reputed journalist Gauri Lankesh. Karunakar Khasale, the Karnataka state secretary of the BJP Yuva Morcha, called on Guha to apologise for his comments within three days, or face further actions.
Guha posted tweets about independent writers in India after news of the notice had been published.
The legal notice pertains to an interview Guha gave to Scroll.in on September 6, in which he was quoted saying, “It is very likely that her murderers came from the same Sangh Parivar from which the murderers of Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi came.” The notice also refers to an article in the Hindustan Times by Guha, in which he writes that “even if the BJP or the RSS is not directly involved in this and similar murders, there is little question that the ruling dispensation has enabled a climate of hate and suspicion that makes such targeted killings of writers and scholars possible”.
Khasale’s legal notice does not explain the BJP Yuva Morcha’s connection to the ‘Sangh Parivar’, although it insists that “he is deeply shocked seeing and hearing such baseless allegations made against his organisation by [Guha].” In the video, Guha also says, “maybe the people who killed Gauri were freelancers acting on their own”.
Lankesh, a journalist who was known for her strident views against right-wing politics, was killed at her home in Bengaluru by gunmen on September 5. Her killing sparked protests around the country, and was seen by many as another in a spate of attacks that have targeted activists and writers critical of the Right. A Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Legislative Assembly said on Thursday that if Lankesh had not written articles about the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, “she would have been alive today.” At the time, this prompted Karnatka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to ask, “What does it mean? Does it not indicate that they are behind it?”
News organisations reported that the weapon used in Lankesh’s killing was “of the same kind as the weapons” used in the murders of Kannada scholar MM Kalburgi, Maharashtra rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and Communist Party of India leader Govind Pansare. A member of the Sanatan Sanstha, a right-wing organisation that espouses views similar to others in the broader Hindu Right, has been chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly being the “key conspirator” in the murder of Dabholkar.