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Gauri Lankesh

HRD & Editor
Lankesh Patrike

Gauri Lankesh was a human rights defender and the editor of the weekly local magazine Lankesh Patrike. A fierce defender of freedom of expression in India, she was known as a fearless and outspoken journalist advocating against communal violence in the country, as well as against the violent rhetoric of various Hindu nationalist organizations. For this work, she was subjected to regular violent threats, including death threats. Gauri Lankesh also extensively wrote articles criticising the caste system, corruption and conservatism, and often spoke in defence of women’s rights and  women’s safety in the public sphere.

Human rights defenders in India face a diverse range of attacks and harassment for their work defending the rights of others, including killings, torture, ill-treatment, enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, smear campaigns, and judicial harassment. People defending the rights of marginalised communities are targeted by state and non-state actors alike. Armed groups and private companies also target HRDs and community leaders for work related to economic development projects and their impact on the local communities or the environment. HRDs have also been labelled as "insurgents" or “Naxalites” (Maoists), in an attempt to discredit their work and justify their targeting.