ISLAMABAD: Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur may not have imagined that one particular placard from the “Soldier of Peace” project that she had been a part of several months ago would be pulled out of context to undercut her protest against the charged environment of intolerance unleashed allegedly by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a right-wing all India student organisation affiliated to the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Gurmehar Kaur, the 20-year-old Delhi University student and daughter of a deceased Indian Army captain, withdrew from ‘Fightback DU’ campaign and requested to be left alone. Her decision came after she was trolled on social media by former cricketer Virender Sehwag and Randeep Hooda among others. Sehwag posted a video that was similar to one posted by Gurmehar earlier. Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda, who shared Virender’s video, insisted Gurmehar “is being used as a political pawn and a prop to spread hatred”.
It participates in joint activities with BJP's official youth wing, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha through their violent acts in Ramjas College. Switch on the television, and lo, behold! Union Minister of Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju – who had rushed to chime in with actor Randeep Hooda on Twitter, wondering “Who’s polluting the young girl’s mind?” – was telling a reporter that it is not acceptable for Gurmehar to lend her voice to “Leftists who celebrate every time soldiers die defending us.”
Ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Rijiju patiently spoke to the reporters, levying the charge on Kaur of “abusing the motherland” while exercising her freedom of expression, but had only a few, brusque, social-media blaming words to spare on the question of right-wing loyalists sending her rape and murder threats. Indian media has widely reported that ten months ago, Kaur’s ‘Soldier of Peace’ video had been uploaded by a Pakistan-India peace promoting Youtube channel called Voice of Ram, in which she told her story through a series of placards – of being a fallen soldier’s 2-year-old child, who as a little girl was filled with maddening hate towards Pakistanis and Muslims in general (whom she mistakenly thought of as Pakistanis for their faith) for taking her father away. Saved by her mother’s timely good sense, she understood that war was responsible for her father’s death rather than a whole community of people – the majority of whom wants lasting peace between the antagonistic neighbours.
This video with placards from April 28, 2016 was targeted towards the governments of both India and Pakistan to solve their differences for good. It even quoted the examples of France – Germany and USA – Japan who were able to move on from horrid World War animosity and function with civility today. It was an anti-war video made for the authorities of both countries and bore no connection to nationalism. Fast forward to last week, Kaur launches #SaveDU campaign to protest against violence in Ramjas College. One selectively pulled out placard from the month’s old video, which read: “Pakistan did not kill my father. War did”, became viral and a butt of incessant lampooning (including that of former cricketer Virender Sehwag and Olympics wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt).