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We owe it to Gauri to fight for freedom, says Kanhaiya

Former president of JNU students' union Kanhaiya Kumar said on Sunday it would be unfair if civil society limited itself to shedding tears for Gauri Lankesh.

He was speaking at the Bengaluru Literature Festival after releasing the book, 'The Way I see It - A Gauri Lankesh Reader'. It is a collection of writings edited by writer Chandan Gowda that seeks to capture "what Gauri stood for and what the world meant for her".

Describing Gauri as a neutral and critical observer whose assessment of the given situation did not compromise because of a particular ideology or emancipatory movement, Kanhaiya said Gauri was not afraid to stand alone when she knew she was right.

"Such a fearless woman doesn't demand us to cry. We have to take this struggle forward and continue to fight the forces that murdered her. We owe her that much," he said.

He said remembering Gauri was difficult without getting emotional. "When I came out of jail (after getting a bail in a sedition case), I saw that many of my friends had abandoned me. But far away in Bengaluru, Gauri was ready to accept me as a son. It is this aspect of Gauri that we should not forget," he said.

Writer Paul Zacharia, another panelist, said a new brand of fascism had swept India, with people pushed to live in fear.

"The price paid for living a decent life is your life. That's what happened to Gauri. Because in today's India, there is no guarantee that you can live your way of life wihout being harmed," he said.

Referring to Rabindranath Tagore's lines, "Where the Mind is Without Fear and Head is Held High," Zacharia said, "That fearlessness is gone. Whatever Gauri stood for will be with us in the form of a book. It is for us to fight for a life without fear," he said.