New Delhi, September 5, 2017--Authorities in India's Karnataka state must thoroughly investigate and bring to justice the killers of Gauri Lankesh, an independent journalist who was shot dead today outside her home in Bangalore, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
Lankesh was the editor and publisher of Gauri Lankesh Patrike, a Kannada-language weekly tabloid. At least three unidentified assailants fired at Lankesh as she returned home from work, according to reports that cited witnesses. She was shot in the head and chest and died immediately, according to a report in the Hindustan Times.
Lankesh was a critic of right-wing extremism and her publication was known for its anti-establishment stand, according to news reports. It covered issues including communal violence and the caste system. Lankesh was also part of a government panel involved in shaping a Maoist surrender to state police, according to reports.
"We urge police in Karnataka to thoroughly investigate the murder of Gauri Lankesh, including whether journalism was a motive," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler, from Washington D.C. "India needs to address the problem of impunity in journalist murders and ensure the press can work freely."
M.N. Anucheth, deputy commissioner of police in Bangalore, said that it was too early to comment on Lankesh's murder, according to reports. CPJ made multiple calls to the police commissioner's office for comment, but the calls went unanswered.
R.K. Dutta, director general of police in Karnataka, told CNN-News18 TV that when he met the journalist during her work on the government panel, she did not mention receiving any threats, according to a report on FirstPost.com, a sister publication of the channel.
At least 27 journalists have been murdered in direct retaliation for their work in India since 1992, according to CPJ research. The country ranked 13th on CPJ's latest Impunity Index, a measure of countries worldwide where journalist are killed and the murderers go free.