Delhi University’s Ramjas College organized a seminar on ‘Culture of Protests’. JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid were to take part in the seminar. The student union owing allegiance to the BJP, and the RSS- the ABVP demanded exclusion of the two from the seminar. Was it simply because they were Muslims? Or, were they known to espouse ‘antinationalism’, disruption and sedition? Umar Khalid, also known as Umar Khalid khorasani was the commander of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TETP). He was once considered one of TETP’s most effective and powerful leaders in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In July 2008, khalid became the dominant Taliban commander in Mohmand after defeating the Shah Sahib group, a rival pro-Taliban group associated with Lakshar-e-Toiba. He was involved in the deadly 2014 Peshawar school attack.
And who is Shehla Rashid? She is a M.Phil student attending the Jawaharlal Nehru University, and is vice-president of the students Union (JNUSU). She is also a member of the All-India Students Association (AISA). She came to the limelight after the JNU Student Union President Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested on charges of sedition over the JNU sedition controversy, which hogged the national headlines in February 2016. She is vocal about the human rights violation in Kashmir, particularly for ensuing justice to minor under trials. She has been active since 2010 when she was part of organizing a youth leadership programme in Kashmir. It is thus clear as daylight that the credentials of these two invited to the seminar were suspect, especially in terms of ‘nationalism’ and the causes they are known to represent. For, these days, anything related to Kashmir and Pakistan, even remotely is ‘antinational’. Even cricketers and musicians like the hugely talented and acclaimed Ghulam Ali are not spared. They are denied entry into India to play cricket or to play music. This explains why the participation of the two at the seminar was so vociferously and belligerently opposed by the ABVP. But, why the ABVP, of all organizations? They are but a gang of hoodlums masquerading as ‘students Union’, which forms one of those intolerant and violent arms of the ruling BJP-led NDA. The way they went about unleashing hooliganism at the Ramjas College testified to this fact. How did the students, in the first place decide, and secure permission to invite the two contentious persons of absolutely suspicious credentials to the seminar? Was the faculty consulted? Things would not have come to such a head if the faculty had shepherded the students appropriately in selecting the participants. Instead of the ABVP and its violent ways, the home ministry could have interfered in the matter and permission denied to the two.
In such an event, Arvind kejriwal or Rahul Gandhi would have, at the most, purred from some street corner or in some sleepy corner in Parliament. Things wouldn’t have come to such a pass, as they eventually did.
Their exclusion from the seminar had the students and professors of the Ramjas College, take out a silent march around the campus in protest. A mob attacked the protestors and damaged the college campus.
The February 22 protests continued with clashes between the students unions, ABVP and AISA, owing allegiance to the rightwing RSS and the leftist political outfits respectively. In the ensuing melee, students and teachers of the college were assaulted.
Journalists covering the clashes were slapped, punched and kicked by a group of policemen demanding they ‘go away’. At least 30 people, including a professor were injured. On February 23, the Delhi police suspended three cops. The Crime Branch was entrusted to probe the clash, both appropriate actions the Delhi police could have taken under the circumstances.
Following this, the Minister of state for Home, Kiren Rijiju remarked: ‘no anti-India slogans will be allowed in the name of freedom of speech. Freedom of expression does not give anyone the right to make college campuses hub of antinational activities.
What is the Lakshman Rekha of ‘Freedom of expression’? Would the two invited participants confine themselves within the Lakshman Rekha? Going by their credentials, it seemed highly improbable.
It seemed the minister had a point considering the credentials of the two contentious participants.
Things seemed to be going in the right direction apparently.
A solution to the vexed issue seemed neigh.
However, On February 24, A Social media campaign against the ABVP went viral. A campaign ‘I’m not afraid of ABVP’ was initiated by the 20-year old Gurmehar Kaur, the daughter of Kargil martyr, Captain Mandeep Singh.
Kaur changed her Face book profile picture holding a placard which read, ‘I am a student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone’.
The placard also said ‘it was war and not Pakistan that killed her father’. All hell broke loose. This amounted to heresy and blasphemy, because Pakistan was shown here under a kinder light, than that country really deserved. This had the ruling right-wing government and its extreme rightwing sister concerns tear their cloaks like those Chief priests before a defiant Christ.
The anti-Pakistan lobby in India led by a BJP lawmaker even compared Kaur to Dawood Ebrahim!
The 20-year old Lady Sri Ram Ram college student seemed to have bit off more than she could chew, and to have shot off her hips!
A barrage of hate messages hit her like Tsunami. She even received rape threats from the ABVP. Rape, in India now is increasingly being adopted to subdue, threaten and put in place women, especially those who prove to be quite a handful (read uncomfortable) to people with private distorted agenda!
It is only a step away from Death by hanging as capital punishment, especially for women ‘who dare to make themselves heard’!
The campaign won Gurmehar widespread support from a large section of students.
Following rape threats and abuses, the girl and her family were provided police protection. It was ordered to immediately register a FIR against the abusers. The government did well on those counts. The devil must be given His due too.
Coming under harsh criticism from the ruling BJP members and a few quarters of the society for her campaign against violence in the name of ‘Nationalism’,kaur folded like an accordion to ultimately announce that ‘she was withdrawing from her campaign’. ‘Frustrated’, she said, ‘I’ve been through a lot, and this is all my 20-year self could take.’ giving up her ‘I am not afraid of ABVP’ campaign, she left New Delhi, and probably a promising future too.
Who created Gurmehar Kaur; did she create herself? She probably was a ‘sensitive’ student, an activist of sorts. Was she taken for a ride by interested forces? Was she the casualty of mob psychology? Had she done her homework right, ascertaining the tarnished credentials of the participants of the seminar, would she have stayed away from the mess? Apparently she fell into the wrong hands through wrong hands.
She probably was created by a conglomeration of ‘interested parties’
- She fell for the campaign that wanted to take on ‘breech of freedom of expression’ when the two participants with absolutely unacceptable history was denied permission to participate in the seminar.
- She fell for the ‘strangulation of freedom of free expression’ jargon by the students union in the college campus.
- She was victim of an irresponsible faculty of the Ramjas College, who failed to guide the students in the organization of the seminar.
- She fell into the hands of a militant ABVP- one of those sister concerns of the ruling behemoth.
(Constituted by hooligans who represent mindless violence and destruction in the campus, like any other modern student unions, who stand for everything other than the students’ interests- They are but puppets in the hands of their political masters remote-controlling them from the comforts of their air-conditioned offices and living rooms)
- She unnecessarily dragged in the Pakistan angle to her father’s death, which seemed a grave mistake, and undoing,
An ingredient quite irrelevant to the cause she was fighting for.
- Did she forget that, by holding up that anti-ABVP Placard, she made herself easy meat to those thriving in times of extreme ‘nationalism’, in its worst ever forms witnessed in post independent India?
Did she forget that nationalism is now represented by the irrelevant, and the least important like respect for the national anthem and the tricolor, and one’s absolute disagreement to consumption of beef?
Whatever be the reason for her faux pas, she should have, for a moment thought for a second considered that she was the citizen of a country being governed by a government who rode to power with an absolute majority, winning 282 seats out of 543 in the Lok Sabha, which placed Narendra Modi as independent India’s 15th Prime minister on 26 May 2014. A government, who, instead of going after the irrelevant, chose not to bring to fruition what the citizens who voted it to power- like institution of a Common Civil Code and scrapping Article 370 of the Indian constitution granting special autonomous status for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, had hoped it would herald in.
I for one am a person who voted for the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance which placed Atal Bihari Vajpayee as India’s 10th prime minister. I was swayed by the charisma of the gentleman and his promise to put in place a Uniform Civil code, and to do away with Article 370, which was what India as a mature democracy badly needed. But the compulsions of a coalition government and want of a majority in Parliament left Vajpayee unable to realize his election promises. But what about Modi? He could have led India into the 22nd century, as a superpower, with her head held high. He had the majority to do that. To take India from strength to strength. Instead, he chose to fall into the hands of the sister concerns of his party. He danced to the tunes of those who cheered for India’s ‘dream run’ through the tracks of division, intolerance and extreme rightist policies, keeping with the times globally. He chose to be more of a preacher than a doer. An orator par excellence at election campaigns and foreign seats of power, he chose to remain silent as Prime Minister, when his country was being torn asunder by selfless power-driven extremists(read nationalists-the true children of Bharat Mata), who were sold on everything that the founders of independent India never wished for the country.
- She thus was created by a government who strode to power on the dream of millions of Indians, but chose to evade them by choosing to ride on the beaten track of a skewed ideology, baptized by an equally skewed religious tenet!
Silence, it seems is a curse of Indian prime ministers! Or is it their modus operandi? We had the likes of Manmohan Singh and Narasimha Rao who remained sphinx-like to maintain stoic silence in times of extreme crisis. Modi is no different. He chose to be silent when India, as a nation was falling apart around him. Hardly seen in the nation in those troubled times, the globetrotting Modi won accolades for his eloquence before world leaders.
Were he to be in India, he adopted silence as his most effective method to speak out, which was perceived as ‘green signal’ for the disruptive activities of the extreme rightwing goondas.
He remained silent when the 50-year old Mohamed Akhlaq was beaten to death, and his 22-year old son severely injured in Dadri in Uttar Pradesh following rumors that his family stored and consumed beef.
He remained silent when rationalist and teacher M.M kulburgi, who talked publicly against traditions, rituals and superstitious practices within Hindu religion, was shot dead in his home pointblank. He was silent when two other rationalists and activists, Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare were wiped off this nation for good. He chose to remain silent when renowned Sanskrit scholar, the late U.R. Ananthamurthy was heckled and almost thrown out of India for daring to air his views against the BJP government, it’d skewed ideology, and methods adopted to realize them. He was silent when a large number of award winning litterateurs returned their awards and decorations to the government for throttling the likes of them. Most recently, he has chosen more affirmatively not to talk against, or even chide an RSS loudmouth (they call him ‘leader’), Kundan Chandawat, from Madhya Pradesh, when he declared a bounty of Rs 1 crore for the head of Kerala Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, for the latter’s alleged connivance in the slaying of RSS workers in far away Kerala by CPI (M) workers. The gentleman also wowed to garland Bharath Mata (Mother India) with a garland of three lakh heads, to avenge RSS men killed in the killing fields of Kerala, famous for RSS-CPI (M) violent skirmishes. One wonders which mother would love to be garlanded with her children’s heads!
He didn’t stop at that .The RSS snake spewed more venom by declaring ‘Have you forgotten Godhra? When they killed just 56 of us, we sent 2,000 of them to the Kharbistan. Now the Communists have killed 300 of us in Kerala. We will adorn bharat Mata with a garland of three-lakh heads’. By saying that loud and clear He declared the hand-in-glove involvement of the RSS and right wing Hindu forces in the infamous Godhra carnage, which they had been denying till date.
- Kaur was a creation of this earsplitting silence too.
Gurmehar Kaur was thus a creation of a number of interested parties, none of whom was actually interested in India or Bharat Mata (as the more ‘nationalistic’ ones love to call the nation)
Kaur, hopefully, and apparently having learnt her lessons right, the hard way must lie low till the smoke clears, and march onto a glorious future like only a 20-year old can!