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What can we do about Gurmehar?

Author: Shefali Vaidya
Publication: Mumbai Tarun Bharat
Date: March 2, 2017

(This is a translation of an article in Marathi in the publication.)

The mainstream media in India has become like a vada pav handcart on streets. There, a stuffing of vadas might be stale and vadas might be fried in oil that is used ten times, but gram dal batter is fresh and it is ensured that vadas are served hot with lots of spicy chatni and mirchis. The customers that eat vadas are the same. They do not care whether the stuffing is stale or oil is reused. They are extremely hungry. They are habitual to eat whatever is easily available at reasonable price. Ultimately what is essential is the spicy chutney spread over the dish! 

Gurmehar Kaur case is a hot and spicy Vada that is fried just now. Prior to this, there had been many instances such as Hardik Patel, Dadri case, Rohith Vemula, Award Wapsi, Kanhaiya Kumar and many more during the span of two years. This is the new variety with the same stuffing. Gurmehar Kaur is a 20-year-old student of the Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi.  Her father captain Mandeep Singh was an officer in Indian army. Her father died fighting militants in Jammu and Kashmir in 1999, when she was just two –year-old. Gurmehar calls herself ‘peace activist’. Of course, she has a right to call herself that!

She had expressed her views against war at a programme in 2016. Gurmehar again came in limelight because Umar Khalid’s lecture was organized at Delhi University's Ramjas College last week. Umar Khalid is the same student who shouted anti-India slogans in JNU case in the past. A student’s organization Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) decided not to allow such a traitor to deliver speech in the University of Delhi. There were violent clashes between the activists of the ABVP and leftist organization All India Student Association (AISA). There were many reports in media regarding that.

In fact, Gurmehar Kaur is not a student of Ramjas College. She was not even present at Ramjas College on the occasion. But just to oppose ABVP she posted a picture on her Facebook profile. In the photo, she holds a placard which reads, “I am a student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP.’’ She even started a campaign on social media under the hash tag ‘Students against ABVP’. Definitely, she has complete right to do so! Nobody had any objection. Also, Gurmehar posted an image in which she holds a placard saying: “Pakistan did not kill my dad, war did.” And then began a controversy, a strong battle of arguments. There were various reactions on internet. Many reactions were against her while some supported her views.

Basically Gurmehar is a daughter of a martyr who had sacrificed his life for the country. Many people sympathized with a girl who lost her father for the country. People could understand why she said that there should not be any war but peace. But by making a statement that ‘Pakistan did not kill my father but the war did’, she has not only disrespected the sacrifice of her own father but betrayed the national sentiments also. The father of 22-year-old captain Saurabh Kalia who became victim to Pakistani atrocity in Kargil war clarified in an interview to Jansatta, “my son suffered tremendous atrocities by Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan is responsible for his death and not war.’’

  Kaur's statement on war killing her father was ridiculed widely on internet. The picture of Hitler read: “I did not kill Jews Gas did.” Bin Laden’s image said: “I did not kill people, Bombs did.  “I did not Tweet it, my computer did,”  
   Noted cricketer Virender Sehwag posted an image of him holding a placard, which read: “I didn’t score triple centuries, my bat did.”  Actor Randeep Hooda retweeted. ‘Dangal’ famed women wrestlers Babita and Geet Phogat supported it. Even Olympic winner Yogeshwar Dutt supported Virender Sehwag. And there were angry reactions from many platforms, especially from a particular class of ‘progressive thinkers.’

  Considering the kind of publicity Gulmehar got it was not at all surprising that so-called ‘progressive thinkers’ terrorists’ used her as a pawn. Media that is ever ready to accuse the BJP government at centre, got a medium in the form of Gurmehar Kaur.  If we glance through the facts of Gulmehar in the past would be easier to know the person behind her statements. The first video of Gurmehar holding a playcard was made and shared by Ram Subramaniam, the man who handles publicity work for the Aam Admi Party.

The left-leaning brigade had organized a rally at Jantar Mantar in November 2016 and people such as Christian activist John Dayal, a Hindu hater who is quite close to Sonia Gandhi, Maoist activist Kavita Krishnan, Shehla Rashid, associate of separatist leader Omar Khalid participated in it. The poster of the programme includes Gurmehar Kaur’s name. Her photographs along with these people have been published. She has openly supported Aam Admi Party in her facebook profile.  She has even appealed for donations to Aap. But media preferred to hide the facts.

In addition Gurmehar said that she was abused in indecent language. She also received some rape threats. If it is true then it is indeed shameful and condemnable. The case should be properly investigated. Gurmehar should have sought a police help. Then the person that threatened her would have been captured. Instead, Gurmehar preferred to go to Delhi Mahila Ayog managed by AAP government and it did nothing except organizing a press conference. That is why the truth regarding who threatened Gulmehar?-- is not out yet. According to the information available on internet, an AISA volunteer has threatened her. Gurmehar Kaur blames the ABVP. Gurmehar herself has not registered a complaint against the threats but an ABVP volunteer has done it. The details of the complaint are available in media.

 Gurmehar received a lot of publicity during the process. Till last week she had just 1500 followers on twitter. But within a day the number increased to 15000. Her account was verified. Gulmehar’s Facebook profile includes many Pakistanis in her friends’ list. How did they become her friends? All these questions remain unanswered. Dare you ask such questions and you are regarded as ‘troll’ in the mainstream media! Even well-known wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and ace cricketer Virender Sehwag were not spared. The noted lyricist in the Hindi film industry Javed Akthar referred personalities such as Babita Phogat, Yogeshwar Dutt and Virender Sehwag as ‘Wrestler troll’ and ‘hardly literate players’. Why? Was it because these sportsmen objected moderately against Gurmehar’s statement without directly making reference to her?

The media and the ‘progressive thinkers’ opine that only Gurmehar has a right to express herself in whatever words she prefers to use. The views may appear against the country to others; but if anybody objects to her views, no matter how moderately, the person is immediately branded ‘indecent’ and ‘troll’. After all, how dare anyone takes a stand that is against the outlook of the ‘progressive thinkers’?

Such campaigns are not new in the country. Post 2014, the media has systematically publicized many such cases. The amusing fact is whenever the elections are round the corner such cases come forward. The media creates such hype! The words such as intolerance, award wapsi, sedition get repeated time and again. The efforts are made to convince people about how PM Modi alone is responsible for such instances! Once, the elections are over everything calms down. Dadri, stone pelting on a church,  Rohith Vemula case, Kanhaiya  Kumar are examples of such campaigns.  Gurmehar case is a sequel to the ‘intolerance’ and ‘award wapsi’ campaign.
 

Now the case is taken to such a low level! The case is deliberately portrayed as Hindu versus Sikh. Pro-Khalistan leader Simranjit Singh Mann has added fuel to the fire by making a provocative tweet, “As a Sikh I support Gurmehar Kaur. Hindu's have always opposed Sikh's and committed their genocide.”  The case is not very simple as it appears to be. A systematic campaign has been planned using Gurmehar Kaur as a pawn. Aam Admi party has openly supported it. Such campaigns follow a fixed pattern. An event that is pro-‘progressive’ is chosen or purposely made to happen. A particular individual is portrayed as a victim. A systematic narrative is created surrounding that victim. Then the ‘self- proclaimed liberals’ on internet and later the media stand firmly by the victim. The person or his relatives are interviewed. The discussions are organized focusing the victim. Every individual speaking against the narrative is declared ‘intolerant’ or ‘saffron terrorist’ or casteist.  A big fuss is created. The real person behind the individual (victim) is hidden purposely and when there are signs of the conspiracy getting exposed, they yell, “we are attacked.’ Once media blows up the case fully, the parties such as AAP and Congress grab the opportunity. This continues till the elections end. Once the elections are over everything calms down; till the next campaign begins. We have seen many campaigns such as Hardik Patel, Dadri case, Rohith Vemula, Award wapsi, Kanhaiya Kumar in last two years. Gurmehar Kaur case is indeed ‘Aajki Taaza Khabar’—today’s hot news!

 

 
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