Senior journalist, editor and activist Gauri Lankesh, 55, was shot dead by unidentified assailants at the entrance of her home in Bengaluru West on Tuesday evening. Four bullets were pumped into the editor of the Kannada weekly Lankesh Patrike at her doorstep after she had stepped out of her car and opened the gates to her home which lay in darkness at around 8 pm.
Neighbours came out of a flat opposite the home where the journalist lived alone on what they thought were sounds of firecrackers and found Gauri lying in a pool of blood on her porch barely a metre away from the locked verandah to her home.
The assailants were either following Lankesh on her way back home from work or were waiting in the neighborhood for her arrival, police said. Some neighbours claimed to have seen two men moving up and down several times on a motorcycle on the quiet street in the Ideal Homes colony in Rajarajeshwarinagar through the day.
"The incident happened at exactly 8 pm and four bullets were fired in her chest," a police inspector said. "The shots were fired from a very close range inside the compound of the house. She had been living alone in recent days after her elderly mother moved to her sister's house," said Shivasundar, a longtime journalist colleague of Gauri Lankesh.
Police are hoping that CCTV footage from cameras Gauri Lankesh had put up at her home ? at the insistence of friends ? may yield some clues on the identities of the killers.
"She has faced a lot of threats. If you see her social media profile, there are constant threats from right wing forces whom she strongly opposed all her life. She was reluctant and did not care too much for her personal safety. There were also some incidents of theft at the home a while ago so we forced her to set up some security cameras and we are hoping that it will yield some results because they were on when the incident occurred," Shivasundar said.
Supporters and friends of the journalist, who was known for her strident opposition to Hindutva forces, drew parallels between the killing of Gauri Lankesh and the 2015 murder of rationalist and writer M M Kalburgi. Kalburgi was shot dead by two unidentified persons who came on a motorcycle.