Crossing Limits: AISA, ABVP, Media, Gurmehar

The past few days has witnessed another episode of student protest, similar to that of JawaharLal Nehru University (JNU) on 9 February 2016. This time, the venue has changed to Ramjas College, the rest remain the same. What started with scuffle between Left-affiliated AISA (All India Students Association), SFI (Students’ Federation of India) and Right-affiliated ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) – something which not uncommon in student politics – has snowballed into the issue of Nationalism and recently to rape threats being issued to Gurmehar Kaur (who wrote an open letter against ABVP). Subsequent take on the whole matter by Media and Political parties has made the issue murkier. I tried understanding it, by going over views of different people and did some decoding on an individual level. I may be right or wrong, but I have formed my opinion after taking into account all the parties involved.

INCIDENT:

Ramjas College had invited JNU students, Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid for a seminar by the AISA and SFI students. The students of ABVP students were against this seminar and they complained the organisers to cancel it. When it was NOT called off, the peaceful protests turned violent with AISA and ABVP members fighting. Amidst the crossfire, a twenty-year old girl Gurmehar Kaur was caught, where she was protesting against ABVP. Gurmehar Kaur is a daughter of Captain Mandeep Singh, who was martyred in 1999 Kargil War. This sparked anger against her, asking if she supports the India-divisive ideologies of Khalid and Rashid. This has moved a step further where she was issued rape threats for speaking against nation.

As of today, we stand at exactly the same timeline, where we were, during the JNU episode of February 2016, where the students were shouting for breaking India into pieces; which led to face-offs on Nationalism.

AISA, SFI:

There are some simple questions that I would like to ask these Student-Wings. How come they are reminded of all the Azaadi (Independence) movements after Modi Government came into being? “Brahman-waad se Azaadi” (Independence from Casteism), “Gareebi se Azzadi” (Independence from Poverty); was the poverty or caste system reinforced in 2014? Or are these those slogans, a twisted version of those that were originally chanted- “Kashmir maange Azaadi” and “Bastar maange Azaadi”?

AISA, SFI, Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid should make their stand clear, as to what they are fighting for? If they don’t believe in the idea of India, how come they are demanding their Right of Freedom of Expression? Any citizen has the right to call them an anti-national if they advocate pieces of India. Having a different set of ideologies for prosperity of people is NOT wrong, but anything that disturbs the core ideals of the Constitution or the Idea of India should be shamed at every level.

Also, if Umar Khalid and his team want a positive change, why do they never protest Burka or Triple Talaq? Never raised a question on Child Molestation, Uniform Civil Code, pending cases with Judiciary, or as basic as strict law enforcement to curb Delhi’s pollution? But then these issues never get the attention from Media or people, so they get conveniently ignored.

I agree that there are rape accusations on some Army men in Kashmir and Naxalite areas. But does this give them the power to brand the whole Army as rapists? The same Army men, who get to eat substandard food (BSF constable Tej Bahadur Yadav’s complaint), give their duty in most difficult of the terrains, stay away from their family for our protection and help people (2014 Kashmir floods and skill training centres for youth); are subjected to stones, branded rapists and other such senseless comments by some political and student-wings. Be it General VK Singh or General Rawat, the army heads have always been on their target.

AISA and SFI should ask themselves if they really are working for the upliftment of the society, should they be giving mileage to those who raise slogans for “Bharat tere tukde honge, inshallah” and “Kashmir ki Azzadi tak, Jung rahegi”.

ABVP:

Since, the country is currently in the wave of Right-Wing, so why not fish in troubled waters. How can anyone, who goes against them, be termed as an anti-national? They need a basic course in English to understand the difference between anti-national and anti-establishment.

Moving ahead, it is alleged that some members issued rape threats to a girl. It is NOT ONLY about Gurmehar Kaur but for every girl; not only in Delhi but across the World. No one, from any party or race or region, should have the guts to issue a rape threat or blackmail the person of opposite/same gender on the pretext of rape. And this is not on the moral grounds that I’m saying; I’m saying on the legal grounds which bestow me a Right to put that person behind the bars, a right given to me by the same country for whose honour some people are ready take honour of a girl.

However, it is a welcoming move by the ABVP by naming those culprits and lodging a formal complaint in Maurice Nagar Police Station.

GURMEHAR KAUR:

She is the daughter of a martyr of 1999 Kargil War, who came into spotlight after she wrote an open letter against the ABVP. She herself is unaware, how she is being used as a pawn to further the agenda of Left parties. These are the same parties which distrusted the Indian Army and wanted proofs of Surgical Strike.

The rape threats that were issued against her are TOTALLY WRONG. No one can or should justify these remarks. Anyone, from a common man to The President of India, if ever, makes such a threat should be seriously dealt with, via legal route. On a positive step, the Government of India has ordered the Delhi Commission for Women and Delhi Police to provide protection to the girl. It will be a welcoming move by the DCW and DP, to catch the culprits who issued such threats as early as possible. The remarks made in public or cyber-bullying offenders should be punished, irrespective of the party or the influential group they are affiliated to.

Everyone should also appreciate the way in which the twenty-year old put forth her opinion. Her mode was totally non-violent, as against those who are violently accusing her.

But Gurmehar Kaur herself is wrong on some accounts.

First, her remark that it was the 1999-Kargil war that killed her father and not Pakistan. Any sane person can understand that she was talking about perils of War. But that sane person will also know that India has always been dragged in the War, be it in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. She should understand that; when a nation attacks another nation, it is called Violence but when the other nation indulges in counter-attack, it is called Self Defence. Even now when our soldiers are being martyred, it’s not due to War but to save our country from those who try to infiltrate it again and again. And surprisingly, they happen to be Pakistanis and are funded by ISI. Can Indians really afford to let militants from across the border invade our nation and kill thousands of innocents? She has the right to speak her mind but she should not allow anyone to take advantage of her opinion. (Remember – Bharat tere tokde honge?).

Captain Saurabh Kalia was not killed in war. He was heading his routine patrol along with 5 other men on 15 May 1999 on our territory. His patrol party was ambushed by Pakistani soldiers (not war soldiers). They were abducted and taken to the Pakistani side (not war side). They tortured them for days in peace time. They burned their bodies with cigarettes, pierced their ear-drums with hot rods, punctured their eyes before removing them, broke most of the teeth and bones, fractured the skull, cut the lips, chipped the nose, chopped off limbs and private organs besides inflicting all sorts of physical and mental tortures. It all continued for 22 days. And then one day, they were shot dead. Not in war time. It was all peace time. Their skeletons were handed over to their parents. In peace time. So, war did not kill them. Pakistan did.

Second, when she got a rape threat, her immediate reaction would have been to file an FIR against Cyber-bullying, instead of marching off straight to NDTV studio. Also, asking Ram Subramanium, who is a member of AAP’s social media team to answer her tweets, gives an uncalled-for political angle to the issue.

Third, her support to Umar Khalid, Shabnam Hashmi, Kavita Krishan and John Dayal raise a serious question on her credibility. Mr. Dayal is the same person who advocates a separate country for Dalits and whose website Dalitstan.org was found so offensive to the internal security of the nation that even “secular” Congress banned it. Shabnam Hashmi and Kavita Krishan are anti-India, anti-Hindu and habitual liars, known for twisting facts. As for Umar Khalid, he is a strong voice of dissonance on Kashmir issue and wants its liberation from Indian state. When you organise a seminar with these people and share stage with them, there are questions bound to be raised on your intentions.

CELEBRITIES:

I feel celebrities are free to take any side they want, without them getting branded as Nationalists or Anti-Nationalists. As for all the tweets that I came across or Facebook posts, no celebrity has justified rape threats for Gurmehar Kaur. The views expressed by Virender Sehwag, Randeep Hooda, Phogat sisters, Javed Akhtar or others have been directed to anti-nationals, which have been very intelligently made as a narrative against Gurmehar Kaur or in support of ABVP.

Lack of education has nothing to do with Freedom of Expression because Freedom of expression works both ways (as stated by some celebs). It’s not that it is applicable only to those who feel they are entitled to that freedom, but when they are opposed by the same freedom, they start crying foul. Everyone has the right to express – their opinions regarding war and voice against violence but no context of that war history should find Pakistan’s narrative naive and witty. If you can’t stand for the freedom of expression of others, and try to discriminate them on the basis of their “literacy” or their “nationalism”, you are no different in bigotry and hypocrisy. If you are truly a person who stands for freedom of expression, then let everyone express that freedom.

Stand for Gurmehar Kaur’s freedom – vilify those animals who issue rape threats and not those who share a different opinion, as well as stand for Yogeshwar Dutt’s freedom who despite being “illiterate”, disagrees with her viewpoint and finds wit in it.

MEDIA:

The media is here to gain TRPs and make money. Simple and Straight. Since, most of the channels get funding from the Left and are mostly owned by Congress (with exceptions of few of the ruling-BJP), their motive is to present the views disseminated by their funding bosses. Apart from DD News, all other News Channels have lost their credibility today. Be it Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, Rana Ayyub, Ravish Kumar, Nikhil Waghle, Dibang or Rohit Sardana. The selective highlighting of the facts makes them untrustworthy. While the matter of Akhlakh’s lynching over Beef issue was prominently highlighted, they maintain their silence on the murder of MM Kalburgi and deaths of BJP-RSS workers by Left groups in Kerala and West Bengal.

The bias of the media towards the Left side has irked up the Right Wing and now they have also taken the matter up with full vigour. The journalists during such turbulent times will definitely visit all those politicians who are known for their inflammatory speeches. You can notice that Owaisi brothers, Sakshi Maharaj, Sitaram Yechury, Azam Khan, Arvind Kejriwal, Digvijay Singh, Yogi Adityanath and Sanjay Raut will by-default take centre-stage to fuel the fire. Even more appalling is, how some Media houses, in order to protect Gurmehar Kaur are openly abusing Phogat sisters. While restraint at these times should be practiced, media ensures that the issue doesn’t die before giving them the required viewership.

POLITICAL PARTIES:

They are the biggest beneficiaries whose agenda is helped by the Media groups. No party is averse to getting gains from their student wings. Hardik Patel from Gujarat’s Patidar Agitation was initially brought forward by the Congress to counter the BJP, and is now used by Shiv Sena to expand their base in PM Modi’s home-state. On similar lines, Kanhaiya Kumar’s episode was initially forwarded by Left parties and after he was released on bail by Delhi Sessions Court was used by Congress to attack the government on the Right of Freedom of Expression. Ex-HRD minister Smriti Irani’s jibes and recently the unfortunate comparison of Gurmehar with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim by MP Pratap Simha has helped BJP to project its image as “harbingers” of nationalism. While Congress is using these tactics to revive itself in national politics, BJP is trying to change itself from Hinduistic to Nationalistic image.

Rohit Vemula’s suicide from Hyderabad University, Saba Qadri who was denied a flat in Mumbai for being a Muslim or Jasleen Kaur who falsely implicated a boy on charges of molestation at traffic lights. All of them were used as pawns in the bigger game of politics by the Mayawati-led BSP, Kejriwal-led AAP or Lalu-led RJD and now have faded into oblivion. It helped RJD to become the largest party in Bihar Vidhan Sabha, it is helping BSP for Uttar Pradesh 2017 elections and will help AAP to project itself as an alternative to BJP.

Gurmehar Kaur will sadly have the same fate, where she will be soon forgotten by the parties that are now, either with her or against her.

PUBLIC SENTIMENT:

Some stay neutral while some maintain their support or anger against a particular ideology. Conforming to Left or Right-ideology is not wrong, but speaking against the sovereignty of the nation is. If standing up for your nation’s dignity brands you as a BJP-RSS agent, be happy to be so. If standing up for a girl’s dignity brands you as an anti-national, be happy to be so. If you believe no one has the right to call you an anti-national, this doesn’t make you a nationalist by-default, until you deal with those voices that threaten to break the nation into pieces. To defend your ideals, you don’t need to belong to a particular ideology (Left or right), but you can stay Centre too.

One should not forget that there is a difference between Freedom of Expression and Treason. The responsibility of terming someone an anti-national doesn’t rest with ABVP or BJP, it rests with every citizen. The Constitution gives us the Right to criticize the Government, not the Country. You can hate BJP-ABVP, but you love the country; let it be known. You love BJP-ABVP, but hate the violent protests; let it be known. Remember: “The World suffers, not because of deeds of bad people, but the silence of good ones.

CONCLUSION:

The whole end to this issue is practising restraint and staying in their limits, be it the ABVP, AISA, Media or Political parties. Gurmehar Kaur has full freedom to express her opinion and no one should question it; until it is against the nation or done to gain any publicity. The Media should stop giving footage to the likes of Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid, who are already out on a bail on sedition charges. The student-wings should focus only on issues pertaining to the students, and don’t use them as launch pads for their political career.

Last, but not the least, all the political parties should maintain their cool and iron out the wrinkles in the opinions in a constructive way rather than getting violent. Let the ideas clash, not people.

And a piece of advice to celebs and social media-warriors. If you don’t understand an issue or know what is happening, DO NOT GIVE YOUR OPINION. As someone has rightly said –

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubts!”

Jai Hind..!