The local South Asian activists came together to hold demonstration against the gruesome murder of Gauri Lankesh at the Holland Park in Surrey on Wednesday evening. Lankesh was a famous journalist who was fatally shot outside her house in Benguluru, India on September 5. She was a well known critic of growing violence by Hindu fundamentalists in India under a right wing Modi government. She has been receiving threats from the extremist groups and as soon as the news of her assassination spread, the supporters of Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi started maligning her on the social media. Her murder follows spate of killings of other liberal and democratic activists and thinkers in India over the last several years.
The speakers at the rally unanimously condemned the murder of Lankesh and denounced violence by Hindu fanatics who continue to enjoy the patronage of the Modi government. Slogans against religious sectarianism were raised by the participants who carried banners and placards denouncing Hindutva terror. Organized by the Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI), the rally was attended by people from different communities and progressive organizations. Among those who spoke on the occasion was Surrey Greentimbers MLA Rachna Singh. She was the only elected official to be present at the rally. The others included Dashmesh Darbar Gurdwara Spokesman Gian Singh Gill, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Society founder Ranjit Singh Khalsa, Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader Sarabjit Singh, visiting Dravid activist from India Waman Meshram, Muslim activist Sayyad Wajahat, Dalit activist Kamlesh Ahir, secularist activist Sunil Kumar and Indian RationalIst Society Leader Avtar Gill.
Since the day of the rally coincided with the anniversary of Jaswant Singh Khalra ‘s abduction he was also remembered by the speakers. Khalra was investigating the human rights abuse by the Punjab police during Sikh militancy. He was abducted on September 6, 1995 from his Amritsar home and later murdered by the police. A moment of silence was observed for Lankesh at the opening of the event. This was the latest event organized by IAPI. On August 27, the IAPI supporters held a denomination outside the Indian consulate in Vancouver.