The 20-year-old daughter of a Kargil war martyr is the latest victim of the Hindu right and their celebrity proxies on social media. I’m not here to defend her or even to condemn the way she was cyberbullied; rather, I’m just fascinated by the manner in which a martyr’s daughter has been painted as an ‘anti-national’. Her fault is simple: She shouldn’t have called out on ABVP’s violent ways.
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad claims to be the biggest nationalists in town; so if you dare target them, all hell is bound to break loose. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost your father as a child. It doesn’t matter if you’re born in a martyr’s family. It doesn’t even matter if you would follow your father’s footstep and die for the country.
You must hate. You must learn to hate. You must have a deep sense of insecurity. You must believe that you’ve been wronged. You must believe that anyone who doesn’t agree with your views is your enemy.
Gurmehar Kaur actually tried to do that. She tried to hate Pakistanis from the core of her heart. She even tried to kill a Muslim woman when she was young, because in our country if you do not hate a Muslim, you aren’t a true nationalist.
But then, her mother taught her something really weird and un-nationalistic. Her mother taught her the meaning of love and forgiveness.
Clearly, she taught her daughter wrong.
Sorry, I again started talking about Gurmehar Kaur. Let’s focus on how, quite interestingly, the entire episode has been spun.
Immediately after Gurmehar puts out a placard on her Facebook condemning ABVP violence, social media starts talking about it. When a right wing group is condemned by a martyr’s daughter, it means bad press. So the entire machinery kicks in to vilify her.
Step 1. Retired cricket and Twitter’s most engaging troll, Virender Sehwag pulled out an old video in which Gurmehar proposed peace between India and Pakistan.
She used 20 old slides to make her point and the Sultan of Multan picked up one especially, without the context.
Amusing to see this coming from a cricketer, who has created records playing against Pakistan. And someone who have never ever in past spoken out against playing in or with Pakistan.
Step 2. Let the world react. First, actor Randeep Hooda jumps in, supporting Sehwag. Journalists like Shekhar Gupta and Barkha Dutt condemned this nature of cyberbullying.
But by this time, the lines were already drawn.
Shekhar Gupta and Barkha Dutt have always been accused by the right wing for being exactly the jingoistic kind of journalists that they would prefer.
Step 3. Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju makes a controversial statement claiming that someone is polluting Gurmehar’s mind. He says nothing about the rape threats against her. He doesn’t utter a word about ABVP or Delhi Police’s behaviour during the violence at Ramjas.
Another BJP leader compares her to Dawood Ibrahim. But by this time, the story has been spun.
It is no more about ABVP’s violence at Ramjas college. It has now become about Gurmehar’s six-month-old video, seeking peace between India and Pakistan—not that she said anything wrong in that video. After all, PM Modi has himself attended Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s birthday party. Did seeking peace make him a traitor?
Step 4. Senior ministers like Venkaiah Naidu and Arun Jaitley make indirect statements attacking Gurmehar. Naidu claims such activities are promoting separatism. In London, Jaitley calls for a debate on freedom of expression.
Yes, we’re already baffled by now. Yes, no one is speaking about ABVP’s violence at Ramjas anymore.
Step 5. More celebrities, weirdly most of them hailing from the sports fraternity, join in mocking and condemning Gurmehar. Rijiju makes another statement, claiming that her father must be weeping at her statements.
By this time, Gurmehar Kaur has realised her mistake—never take a panga with ABVP, especially when BJP is in power. She withdraws from the protest against ABVP, issues a statement on Facebook and leaves Delhi.
And that’s how it is done. If today, Joseph McCarthy was alive, he would have been very proud.
Who is Joseph Mccarthy? Well, go and google!