A young, feisty, intelligent woman has been trolled these past few days for having a point of view on India-Pakistan ties. She has been abused, attacked and hounded by the usual army on Twitter. But what should anguish our great democracy is that she has even been mocked by a senior government minister and a ruling party MP. When Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju asks who is "polluting" Gurmehar Kaur's mind, he is assuming she is too dumb to have a mind of her own, attributing political motives, patronising this 1st-year student of Lady Shri Ram college for having an opinion. The entire debate tells us a lot about the Indian male's mind too. That is why actors like Randeep Hooda are quick to assume that this "poor girl" is a "pawn".
How many of those attacking her actually saw her video in full? Gurmehar was trying to make a bigger point about peace, because she lost her father, a soldier. Those attacking her called her out for one line: "Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him". But see the full video. She says "I was 2 years old when my father died...I remember how much I hated Pakistanis because they killed my father...When I was 6 years old, I tried to stab a lady in a burkha because for some strange reason, I thought she was responsible for my father's death...my mother held me back and made me understand that Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him."
The issue isn't about Virendra Sehwag or Hooda's freedom of expression. It is how they mocked this woman online, when she was already facing threats and abuse, only to send a new wave of trolls after her. They are well within their rights to disagree with her, and could have engaged with her directly. But they didn't even have the courage to tag her and have a civilised debate. People like Sehwag and Hooda have a huge following online, and with that comes a greater responsibility.
There was a hidden learning for Ms. Kaur in Shewag’s mock, if you are so desperate to call it mocking. And the learning is this – she is as far from truth as my Tennis coach was from Tennis. If she is perpetrating her own brain with all kind of falsehood for some reason then it is a different matter altogether but if not, then she requires all such mocking to get out of her hallucination. There can’t be anything other than hate with Pakistan and this feeling is mutual at both sides. More of, it is Pakistan that always have attacked us, not the other way round. When Ms. Kaur’s father was killed by the terrorists it wasn’t a war even. It is the Pakistanis ably supported by rogues like Umer Khalid that killed her father and she should be the first one to realize this. If she doesn’t, it is for her own good that someone pushes this truth deep within her. This ‘Love Pakistan, Love Pakistanis’ rhetoric has led us nowhere in last 70 years and would lead us nowhere in next 150 years either. By the way, in disguise of freedom of expression, people can push through their sinister plot of ‘Bharat tere Tukde Honge, Insallha’ but mocking is not acceptable. If FoE is absolute as you always suggest, then why so many ifs and buts be introduced? If the Azaadi gang can enjoy a call for destruction of India why not few chaps enjoy a bit of mocking?
By the time Mr Rijiju tweeted, Gurmehar had already choked up on NDTV and talked about the rape threats she was getting. Instead of assuring her that she would be safe, Mr Rijiju, under whose charge the Delhi police comes, decided to attack her instead, deploying many more trolls to her timeline. Today he told NDTV he was not aware she was facing rape threats when he tweeted.
And hey, these are facts, not fabricated outlays that we commonly associate with Delhi based journalists. Kiran Rijiju may have the Delhi Police reporting to him but he certainly doesn’t report to NDTV office for SoundBits. He can only have the knowhow of a rape threat when there is a FIR lodged. But Ms. Kaur never lodged one, for reasons best known to her. And yet, you expect the minister to visit the NDTV office every evening and procure the list of all rape threats issued on that day from your program manager. That would be slightly over doing the governance part, won’t you think? And please stop calling those who ask genuine counter questions as trolls. If you have the audacity to blabber incoherent ‘Bappi Lahari’ songs with absolute impunity and still hail it as facts and work of ‘intelligence’, don’t be judgmental in name calling of those who ask uncomfortable questions as counter. Either both could be wrong or right. It can’t be selective outrage if one wants to be realistic. Things don’t work that way.