A Mumbai court has summoned Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Communist Party of India General Secretary Sitaram Yechury for linking the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh with the “BJP-RSS ideology”, reports said on Friday. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh worker Dhrutiman Joshi had filed the complaint in the Metropolitan Magistrate’s court in 2017.
Lankesh, a journalist who was known for her strident views against Hindutva politics, was killed at her home in Bengaluru by gunmen on September 5, 2017. Her murder 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 wing.
United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Communist Party of India was also named in the complaint.
Magistrate PK Deshpande dismissed the claims against Sonia Gandhi and the Communist Party of India while saying that the party cannot be held liable for statements made by individuals. It set the next hearing for March 25.
Joshi said that Rahul Gandhi, within 24 hours of Lankesh’s death, had told reporters that “anybody who speaks against the ideology of the Bharatiya Janata Party and RSS is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed”. The petitioner alleged that Yechury had also claimed the RSS ideology and workers were responsible for the murder.
The complaint demanded that a case of criminal defamation be registered against Rahul Gandhi, the Communist Party of India and Sonia Gandhi. He said he included Sonia Gandhi in the complaint as she was Congress President when her son Rahul Gandhi made the purported comment.
An RSS worker had also lodged a defamation complaint against Rahul Gandhi for claiming that the Sangh was responsible for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.
In November 2018, the Special Investigation Team of the Karnataka Police said Lankesh’s killers are linked to Hindutva organisation Sanathan Sanstha and that her murder was part of an “organised crime”.