A prominent Indian journalist and activist has been shot dead in the southern state of Karnataka.
The body of Gauri Lankesh, 55, was found lying in a pool of blood on the porch at her home in Bangalore on Tuesday night.
A staunch critic of Hindu nationalist politics, last year Lankesh was convicted of defamation and sentenced to six months in prison for a story on a local leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
At the time of her death, Lankesh was on bail appealing the verdict.
Bangalore Police Commissioner T. Suneel Kumar told reporters that four empty cartridges had been recovered from the scene of the crime.
Lankesh had been shot from close range with three bullets hitting her on the neck and chest.
Police say footage from two CCTV cameras is being reviewed.
‘A progressive force’
Lankesh’s death has sparked widespread condemnation across India.
“Gauri Lankesh was never afraid of speaking truth to power. Her assassination must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” said Asmita Basu, Programs Director at Amnesty International India.
“The police must investigate whether she was killed because of her journalism.”
Shashi Tharoor, a senior member of India’s main opposition Congress Party, echoed these sentiments, tweeting, “Saddened by the murder of #GauriLankesh. India wasn’t supposed to be a country where journalists are silenced by bullets. Her voice rings on.”
On a statement posted to his social media account, Karnataka’s Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, vowed a “prompt and thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
“Shocked to learn about murder of tall progressive force and senior journalist Gauri Lankesh. Such cold-blooded acts deserve highest condemnation,” added Siddaramaiah.
A disturbing trend?
Lankesh was the editor of the newspaper Lankesh Patrike, founded by her father, a journalist and activist himself.
She went on to set up her own weekly magazine, the Gauri Lankesh Patrike.
Her killing bears similarities to the death of scholar MM Kalburgi, 77, who was shot dead outside his home in Dharwad, Karnataka in November 2015.
Kalburgi’s death came just months after the murder of a Communist leader in February 2015, as well as the 2013 killing of a writer who was committed to debunking superstitions.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there have been no convictions in any of the 27 cases of journalists murdered for their work in India since 1992.
One of Lankesh’s last tweets before her death read, “Why do I feel that some of ‘us’ are fighting between ourselves? We all know our ‘biggest enemy’. Can we all please concentrate on that?”
Her killing like others before her “raises alarms about the state of freedom of expression in the country,” according to a statement issued by Amnesty International India.