India: Murder of Ms. Gauri Lankesh

Urgent Appeal

IND 004 / 0917 / OBS 098
September 12, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

Brief description of the information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the murder of Ms. Gauri Lankesh, journalist and Editor of Lankesh Patrike newspaper [1]. Ms. Lankesh was an outspoken defender of freedom of expression and was critical of communal violence and violent rhetoric promoted by Hindu nationalists.

According to the information received, on the evening of September 5, 2017, Ms. Lankesh was fatally shot in front of her residence in Bangalore, Karnataka State, by three unidentified gunmen as she was returning from work. There were several bullet wounds to her head and chest.

A Special Investigation Team headed by Inspector General of Police (Intelligence) B. K. Singh was subsequently formed to investigate the killing.

Ms. Lankesh had repeatedly been the target of online death threats, including from Hindu nationalists, and other acts of harassment because of her human rights work.

Ms. Lankesh was also known for her criticisms of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In November 2016, Ms. Lankesh was found guilty of defamation and sentenced to six months in jail along with a fine of RS 10,000 (approximately 130 euros) in two cases brought against her by Lower House BJP MP Pralhad Joshi and BJP member Umesh Dushi. The case related to an article published in Lankesh Patrike in 2008 entitled “Darodege Illida BJP galu [BJP men involved in criminal activities]”, which accused three persons, including Umesh Dushi, of cheating a businessman in the city of Hubli in Karnataka and also alleged the involvement of Pralhad Joshi in the case.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the murder of Ms. Lankesh and urges the Indian authorities to adopt effective measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in the country.

The Observatory also calls for an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into Ms. Lankesh’s murder and for those responsible to be held to account.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in India, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in India;

ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the murder of Ms. Gauri Lankesh in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by law;

iii. Put an end to any harassment against all human rights defenders in India, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by India.


· Mr. Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi, Prime Minister of India, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: /
· Mr. Raj Nath Singh, Union Minister of Home Affairs of India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979. Email:
· Mr. Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Email:
· Justice Dipak Misra, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, of India, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email:
· Justice Shri H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email:
· Mr. Srinivasa Kammath, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission of India, Email:
· H.E. Mr. Rajiv Kumar Chander, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email:
· H.E. Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri, Embassy of India to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 2 6451869

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India located in your country.

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  • Co-signatories

    Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

    The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

    To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
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    • Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

  • Member organisations - India
    vignette contact
    B-117 Second Floor Sarvodaya Enclave
    110 017 New Delhi
    +91 11 2685 0523
    +91 11 2652 8152
    +91 11 2686 4678
    +91 11 2686 4688
    vignette contact
    6A, Vallabai Road, Chokkikulam
    625 002 Madurai
    +91-452 2539 520

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