New Delhi, February 28 (NIA): Gurmeher Kaur, the 20 year old daughter of Kargil war martyr Capt.Mandeep Singh, who started a placard campaign on social media saying that her father’s death was “due to war and not Pakistan” was allegedly threatened with rape and trolled badly.
But these threats did not stop her. On Monday she stood against them openly on social media, saying she will not be ‘cowed down’ by the right wing Hindutva student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and its threats.
Several socially conscious netizens praised her courage. The faculty of the English department in Lady Shri Ram College, where she is studying, issued a unanimous statement extending support to her.
Here’s the full text of the statement:
We, the faculty members of the English Department, Lady Shri Ram Collegeunequivocally and strongly support our student Gurmehar Kaur and her right to express her opinion on issues that embroil our university. It is immensely gratifying to us as her teachers that she has responded sensitively, creatively and bravely to events in her immediate context rather than seek the safe refuge of silence. We feel that it is the bounden duty of educational institutions to nurture sensitive, responsive and critical thinking students without the fear of violent retaliation. We are proud that Gurmehar has fulfilled her duty as a young citizen of this country. The threats of violence and brutality that she faces are absolutely reprehensible. Responses on social media by public figures such as Virendra Sehwag and Randeep Hooda are shameful trivialization of the intimidation that Gurmehar faces at the hands of violent mobs whose viciousness the university has recently witnessed.
We fervently appeal to the good sense of the public and to institutions of redressal to help restore our faith in law and justice in our country and let our young citizens think and articulate without fear of intimidation.
Signed by: Rita Joshi, Madhu Grover, Rukshana Shroff, Arti Minocha, Maya Joshi, Shernaz Cama, Mitali Mishra, Arunima Ray, Dipti Nath, Maitreyee Mandal, Janet Lalawmpuii, Ngangom Maheshkanta Singh, Karuna Rajeev, Wafa Hamid, Jonathan Varghese, Taniya Sachdeva, Rachita Mittal.
Meanwhile, in a series of tweets Gurmeher decided not to participate in the ‘Save Delhi University’ march organized by the All India Students’ Association (AISA) in the North Campus.
“I’m withdrawing from the campaign. Congratulations everyone. I request to be left alone. I said what I had to say”, Gurmehar Kaur said.
“I have been through a lot and this is all my 20-year self could take :). The campaign is about students and not about me. Please go to the March in huge numbers,” she added.
“To anyone questioning my courage and bravery…I’ve shown more than enough. One thing is for sure, next time we will think twice before resorting to violence or threats and that’s all this was about,” she added.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will be meeting Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal requesting him to order action against the ABVP and those who threatened to rape Gurmehar.
What angered the ABVP was her tweet: “I am not afraid of ABVP’, following the violence unleashed by that organization at Ramjas college, which went viral and received a massive support from students of various universities.
The genesis of the clash was an invite to Jawaharlal Nehru University students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid to address a seminar on ‘Culture of Protests’ which was withdrawn by the college authorities following opposition by the ABVP.
Gurmeher posted her pictures on Facebook holding different placards including ‘I am not afraid of ABVP’ and ‘Pakistan did not kill my father but war did’.
In a retort, Indian cricketer Virender Sehwag shared an image holding a placard saying, “I did not score two triple centuries. My bat did.”
While many Twitter users criticized Sehwag for equating a cricket match with war, many others including actor Randeep Hooda cheered Sehwag for his remark, saying, “She (Gurmehar) is being made a pawn.”
To this Gurmeher replied: “Pawn? I can think.”
(The featured picture at the top shows cricketer Virender Sehwag with Gurmeher Kaur)