New Delhi: The Congress today condemned the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh with party president Sonia Gandhi saying it was a chilling reminder that “intolerance and bigotry is raising its ugly head in our society”.

Her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi, senior leader P Chidambaram and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also expressed shock at the killing of the journalist in Bengaluru yesterday.

In condemning this debilitating attack, the Congress party stands as one with the rationalists, thinkers, journalists and the media fraternity, Sonia Gandhi said.

The Congress president described Lankesh as one with fearless and independent views, who had extraordinary grit and determination to take on the system.

“The series of killings of rationalists, free thinkers and journalists in the country has created an atmosphere that dissent, ideological differences and divergence of views can endanger our lives. This cannot be and should not be tolerated,” Sonia Gandhi said in a statement.

“It is an extremely sad moment for our democracy and a chilling reminder of the fact that intolerance and bigotry is raising its ugly head in our society,” she said.

Sonia Gandhi as well as Rahul Gandhi have spoken to Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and urged him to swiftly bring the culprits to the book.

“Every possible measure should be taken to maintain a safe and secure atmosphere in the state,” she added.

Expressing her deepest condolences to Lankesh’s family and friends, the Congress president said she offered her prayers.

The Congress vice president said no one could suppress the truth.

He also said it was very important that the perpetrators were caught and punished and the chief minister had assured him of that.

“Anybody who speaks against the ideology of BJP and RSS, is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed,” Rahul Gandhi told reporters.

The Congress vice president attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and described him as a “skilled Hindutva politician”, what he spoke had a different meaning for his base and another one for the world.

“No one can suppress the truth. The RSS and BJP ideology is trying to suppress the truth but this cannot happen in India,” he said.

Asked about Modi’s silence on the issue, Gandhi said, “…but the entire ideology is to silence voices”.

“When sometimes the prime minister feels there is too much pressure to speak then he says something, but the entire ideology is to crush dissent and this is resulting in a serious problem in India,” he said.

“The idea is there should be only one voice in this country. There should not be any other voice except one voice and that is just not the nature of this country,” he said.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram also spoke out.

“Gauri Lankesh: another anti-establishment voice silenced. Freedom is in peril.

“Liberty will survive only where contrarian views are freely spoken and written,” he said on Twitter.

He added that Lankesh was afraid of no one. “Who was afraid of Gauri Lankesh?” he asked.

The Punjab chief minister said such brazen intolerance had no place in a civilised democratic society.

“Strongly condemn Gauri Lankesh murder. No place for such brazen intolerance in a civilised democratic society.

Exemplary punishment needed,” Singh said.

Lankesh, 55, known for her left-leaning outlook and forthright views on Hindutva politics, was shot dead by unidentified assailants at her residence last evening.

PTI