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Why Gurmehar Kaur Is a Victim, Pawn & Player
Sutanu Guru examines the bigotry, double standards and worse of Indians as ABVP and AISA slug it out over Ramjas College
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George Bush Jr. would have loved the monochromatic echo chambers full of bile, prejudice and downright hypocrisy that masquerades as debate in contemporary India. After all, Bush did give official sanction to vile and bigotry in the aftermath of 9/11 by announcing: You are with us or against us. The unholy war being waged over Gurmehar Kaur, the 20-odd-year-old student of Delhi University and her statements and public posturing demonstrate the depths to which ideological warriors of India have sunk. If you are not a partisan warrior in this Jihad, it should be as crystal clear as broad daylight that Gurmehar is three things all at once: victim, pawn and player. Since she happens to be the daughter of a martyred army man, the debate has become all the more vicious.
Why is she a victim? Well the cowardly and disgraceful manner in which some right wing warriors on social media have attacked her is virtually beyond the pale of civilised norms. Giving her death and rape threats and branding her anti-national for her decidedly naive and utopian stance on Pakistan is the worst form of intolerance and bullying. Just one example from the mouth of a top BJP leader and minister in Haryana is enough to expose the dark side of this prejudice. Anil Vij has been reported as saying: Those supporting #GurmeharKaur are pro-Pakistan, therefore such people should be thrown out of the country. Gurmehar is a victim because she is being needlessly bullied.
And yet, no matter how much spin so-called liberals in India indulge in, Gurmehar is also a pawn. Her YouTube placard displaying moment was virtually scripted by a senior AAP strategist Ram Subramanian. Soon after the surgical strikes last year, Gurmehar shared stage and prominent space with the likes of Kavita Krishnan, John Dayal and Shabnam Hashmi in a seminar organised to oppose "war mongering". And of course, when some Indian celebrities laughed at her for her naive stand on Pakistan not killing her father, the entire liberal ecosystem descended like a pack of hyenas against them. Virender Sehwag, Randeep Hooda, the Phogat sisters and Yogeshwar Dutt were labeled as misogynist bullies and worse. The AISA which normally revels in demonising the Indian Army suddenly discovered new found love for a "martyrs" daughter. Well-known psephologist Yashwant Deshmukh summed up the game by tweeting: "Anyone and everyone who disagrees with @mehartweets is an abusive patriarchal murderer rapist belonging to right wing. FoE doesn't apply." There was even worse. Award winning poet, lyricist and script writer Javed Akhtar tweeted: "If a hardly literate player or a wrestler troll a pacifist daughter of a martyr it's understandable but what's wrong with some educated folks". How different is this kind of elitist bullying from "illiterate" bullying? Are left liberals a superior species?
Well known journalist Chitra Subramaniam summed this up well when she wrote in a blog: "If at 20, a young lady in Delhi University says she wants peace, not war, why is that a problem? If politicians say she is young and impressionable, and has been influenced by the Left, so what? There are others, equally young, who are influenced by the Right. So what? This is the future of India. My personal view is that India's Left is a rag-tag fossilised comedy central of gauche caviar, that travels business class, keeps dogs in air-conditioned kennels while calling for total revolution."
And finally, even as we support Gurmehar against bullies, let us not forget she is also an active player in this vicious game. She is more than 20 years old and quite capable of rational and independent thinking. By opposing ABVP in a public platform even as the ABVP protested against JNU student Umar Khalid who is accused of sedition, Gurmehar joined battle as an adult. To then claim pure victimhood is a bit rich. And don't forget she remains active. A few days ago, she "withdrew" from the campaign and requested everyone to respect her "privacy". And yet she was tweeting and retweeting merrily about the march organised to oppose ABVP goondaism. One OF her tweets says: "2000 people in SOLIDARITY!
All my friends. Our lovely faculty! ?? how I wish I was there *GRINNING*
So let's not be carried away by vicious ideological wars. This author unequivocally supports her and even the right of Umar Khalid to say what they want. But there is also a request. Would she spare a few moments and comment on the following tweet by a handle called Vidyut describing women who support Narendra Modi: "Serious question. Is it normal for women BJP supporters to "open their legs" for Modi? Why do they seem to see this as a regular thing?"
As a victim, Gurmehar must comment. As a pawn, she might be prevented from doing so. As a player, she will be no different from other "liberals" for whom dignity of women is decided by the color of your ideology.