A lot is being said these days in the name of freedom of speech and expression. A young lady, coincidentally also a daughter of a soldier of this country (Captain Mandeep Singh), recently became a media sensation for a placard campaign run by herself and her friends. Gurmehar Kaur, a 1st year student pursuing English honours from Lady Shri Ram College for women became an overnight darling of all the Left wing liberals and an enemy of the Right wing bhakts (At least that is how the media has tried to project this issue as).
On 21st February, at a seminar on, ‘The War in Adivasi Areas’, organised by the Ramjas College’s literary society, Omar Khalid (one among the many charged with sedition post the JNU incident) was invited to speak on the topic. Omar, son of Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas , the founder of banned Islamic organization, Students Islamic Movement of India, who is out on bail on charges of sedition.
Exactly a year ago, he along with his comrades was arrested for raising anti-India slogans calling for azadi of Kashmir from India, in the bastions of JNU. Come 2017, Mr. Kahlid, who was instrumental in raising his voice for slain terrorist Afzal Guru, was invited by the All India Students Association (AISA) for the said college event.
Considering Mr. Omar Khalid’s tumultuous past and his controversial stance, the association inviting Omar could have taken the requisite police permissions before. But in the present scenario, Mr. Khalid was invited for the event without the consensus of the student wings, leading to a scuffle between AISA and ABVP students, with the latter vehemently opposed to Khalid being invited for the college event.
What transpired later is still hazy, considering no one really has an account of what happened, except for allegations flying from all corners accusing ABVP students of hooliganism.
From 21st onwards a systematic media campaign was put in place, which sought to create a general consensus of anti-ABVP feeling amongst the people at large, purposefully leaving out the issue of inviting Omar Khalid (the hatemonger) entirely. The media was successful in making Omar look like the messiah and ABVP as shaitans.
The step by step construction of this propaganda consequently brought in Gurmehar, who played right into the hands of the media when she released her “I am not afraid of ABVP” and “Pakistan did not kill my dad, War did” placards.
Political Intervention or an issue created by Political Parties:
While Article 19 provides every citizen with an opportunity to freely voice their opinion, there are restrictions to that freedom as well.
Gurmehar through her campaign which was fed by one Mr. Ram Subramaniam, who is also coincidently the digital media campaigner for AAP, let the world know that anti-India elements like Khalid had all right to continue with their propaganda to destroy the fabric called India, but ABVP activists/students who opposed him are a bunch of hooligans.
Because, raising anti-India slogans is a freedom of speech and expression but dissenting on such azadi slogans was loathsome.
As would have been expected, journalists like Rana Aayub rushed by Gurmehar’s side, ridiculing ABVP to the hilt. Next in line were political parties starting with AAP, then by Congress and finally by the Left led by Sitaram Yechury & Co.
All the major daily news papers in India, fed by the propaganda started on Social Media, reported that a Kargil Martyr’s daughter had raised her voice against the alleged atrocities of ABVP activists; not bothering to even do their own fact check.
Note: Gurmehar’s father was indeed a soldier who sacrificed his life in the line of duty, but not during Kargil.
Knowing that the propaganda fed would not last long, a new propaganda seemed to have started parallelly, where Gurmehar begged for herself to be left alone. She claimed to withdraw from the campaign because of rape threats given to her (allegedly). What struck one as most odd was that, while Gurmehar had campaigned so feverously against ABVP with her powerful placard campaigns, she suddenly seemed to have lost her voice and mental balance on the alleged threat given to her. In addition to this, all she said was that she had been receiving threats, but did absolutely nothing to substantiate them, not even lodging a complaint with the local police station.
The orchestrated campaign was going just as planned when, ex – Indian cricketer Virendra Sehwag, actor Randeep Hooda, wrestling maestro’s Phogat sisters and Yogeshwar Dutt, all using their freedom to expression under the constitution of India let their displeasure known to Gurmehar and her supporters by subtly trolling their campaign.
By the end of the day all was clear, social media activists dug into Gurmehar’s twitter and facebook past and dug out all her previous campaigns which sought to defame the current government and the Indian Army at large.
Politicians like Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi showed their support for Gurmehar, shedding crocodile tears. AAP and Congress ganged up as usual to slam the BJP, even though the BJP had absolutely no role to play in the entire episode.
Delhi CM who otherwise keeps blaming the central government for controlling and directing the Delhi police, took to twitter to say that he would meet the Lieutenant Governor at 2:30 pm on Tuesday to demand action against the “ABVP hooliganism and rape threats made to (Gurmehar Kaur).” Wonder, how the CM suddenly gained the authority to demand action from the Delhi Police, considering he has only abused the Delhi police since the time he has come into power.
And finally, with no complaints filed with the Police, it were the demons (as projected by our media) themselves, ABVP, who filed a police complaint with Maurice Nagar police station for the rape threats given to fellow student, Gurmehar.
The whole left liberal army, did absolutely nothing, leaving Gurmehar to fend for herself had the support of ABVP, who stepped up, putting her safety above their ideological differences.
The timing and the turn of events unfolding need to be looked at more carefully. It is surprising as to how only during elections, an issue of such sort grabs media headlines. Be it the random vandalising of churches, the award wapsi drama or the Rohith Vemula fiasco, all seemed to have been engineered at times when it would have an impact on the sympathetic votes in the Indian electorate.
The intolerance of the Indian liberal goes down the drain when authors like Tarek Fatah are manhandled and threatened. The typical Indian liberal goes deaf and blind when young BJP workers are cut into pieces in Kerala or when girls are forced to wear hijabs in Uttar Pradesh.
Come March 11, all those liberal sleeper cells raising their voice in support of what Gurmehar stood for will go back to sleep until the next elections. As for Gurmehar, this incident for want of cheap publicity has led her into troubled uncertain waters, where ultimately she would be the only one to swim.
The following quote serves right for everyone who exploit their Freedom to speech and expression;
Freedom of speech does not protect you from the consequences of saying stupid shit.