The recent attack on students and teachers by members of ABVP was condemned by many but Gurmehar Kaur’s way of protest went viral. Know how the ABVP row developed into what’s now called as “Gurmehar Kaur row” and how a martyr’s daughter became anti-national for many.
What was Gurmehar’s campaign about?
It all started from the attack on students and teachers at Delhi University’s Ramjas College by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Gurmehar Kaur, a student of DU’s Lady Shri Ram college and daughter of martyr Captain Mandeep Singh, posted a photo on Facebook. The photo had her holding a placard that read, “I am a student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me”. The post went viral and received more than 3,500 shares.
Gurmehar Kaur’s journey to the “anti-national” label:
Technically the argument, if at all there has to be one, should have been restricted to her opinion about ABVP and her campaign against the right-wing student body. But social media users went ahead and dug out screenshots of another campaign which Gurmehar was a part of in the past.
In this campaign, started by activist Ram Subramanian, Kaur is seen holding a placard that reads, “Pakistan did not kill my dad. War killed him”. The concept behind this was to promote a better relationship with our neighbour and the video included other placards too. But to the convenience of many, the out of context placard worked and went viral.
How did the controversy begin?
Virender Sehwag, in an attempt to take a jibe at Gurmehar Kaur, tweeted a photo of himself holding a Photoshopped placard that read, “I didn’t score two triple centuries, my bat did”. He captioned the photo “bat me hai dum” along with a BharatJaisiJagahNahi.
Actor Randeep Hooda ended up adding more fuel to the fire by cheering Sehwag. He retweeted the cricketer’s tweet which garnered more than 3,000 retweets. Both of them received flak from social media users for “bullying” Gurmehar, though there were some who supported the two celebrities. Hooda later cleared his stance in a Facebook post.
The political twist:
Things escalated when Gurmehar claimed that she had received rape threats. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, turning the issue political, tweeted saying he would meet the Lieutenant Governor Of Delhi to demand action against ABVP goondaism and against those who threatened Kaur with rape and death.
Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home, initially said that “someone is definitely doing politics over this issue” of campus violence and asked “who is polluting this young girl’s mind”, possibly hinting at Arvind Kejriwal because of Kaur’s association with the Aam Aadmi Party in the past.
Harayana Minister Anil Vij too entered argument by offering his ‘highly insightful’ opinion and said “those supporting Gurmehar Kaur are pro-Pakistan, therefore such people should be thrown out of the country”.
Indian woman wrestlers Babita Phogat and Geeta Phogat joined Virender Sehwag and Randeep Hooda by criticisng Gurmehar.
Responding to Virender Sehwag and Yogeshwar Dutt, poet, lyricist and former Rajya Sabha MP Javed Akthar tweeted, “If a hardly literate player or a wrestler troll a pacifist daughter of a martyr its understandable but whats wrong with some educated folks [sic]” and this irked many social media users.