The past week has brought back age-old debate about the concept of ‘Nationalism’, the inexplicable terminologies of ‘Leftist’ and ‘Right-wing’ ideologies and the need for protecting your right to opine. Few days have passed since Ramjas College saw causalities inflicted in form of maltreatment and violence, to the students. Many people were left wondering about the commencement of “Politically Correct” views coming in from our “concerned” politicians. Soon their subtle outrage started pouring in, post incidents that have made this protest, into an escalated political row.
In an attempt to justify their actions and clear their name off the grid, the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) led by the ABVP undertook a ‘Tiranga’ march this Monday. Initiating their strong-willed movement with assertive intent, they marched from Ramjas College to the Arts Faculty. Expressing their “Hurt” feelings and dismay, the ABVP demanded action against those from the Left student organizations, who ‘supposedly’ beat them up and complained against them.
Preceding such dramatic show of events, a simple and honest attempt at ‘Silent Protest’ ended up getting misconstrued by politicians and people, in general. Lady Shri Ram College’s Gurmehar Kaur who happens to be the daughter of Kargil martyr Captain Mandeep Singh, in show of solidarity against the recent events started a social media campaign. She changed her profile picture to, her holding a placard that read, “I am a student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone. Every Student of India with me. #StudentsagainstABVP”. Explaining her intention and actions, she said that no matter what obstacles are created in our way or end number of stones that are pelted to try to restrain us (Students), our ideas won’t bulge and get bruised. The post she shared instantly hit the viral spot, as students from various universities across the country came together in unanimity and changed their profile pictures with the same placard.
But any sort of protest in India cannot be seen in a better light, in general. There were deriders, who not only criticized Gurmehar’s actions but also threatened her with dire consequences, if she didn’t stop. Apparently someone, in one of the comments on her post explicitly stated the “way”, he’ll rape her, if her activities continue to irk him and progress forward. Such is the demeaning mentality that certain individuals and sects of the society, hold. Additional security had been provided to Gurmehar in lieu with the same. Such is the culture in our country that we so proudly boast about, that all that can be said is, “Rape her if she decides to speak. And continue, if she remains silent.” It is truly disappointing.
Politicization of the ‘movement’
MoS for home, Kiren Rijiju on Monday tried to politicize the event by accusing political rivals of influencing the dynamics of the current happenings. “ Freedom of expression is not a license to shout anti-national slogans in campuses. Criticise the government but don’t abuse the motherland.” He said also in reference to the video, Gurmehar Kaur posted last year regarding ending the India-Pakistan rivalry. Some sense of positive light reflected in the statement issued by Congress. “You may not like what the person thinks but trolling, mindless threats… trolling emanating from people whom the Prime Minister follows. This is the worst form of state intimidation and this is not how democracies and democratic countries function” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.
Such views and incidents taking place only lead to one conclusion. Until the government and the divisive elements of the society keep considering the students as a threat and misconstrue their actions as “Anti-nationalist” or radical, change will be hard to construe and accept. Change begins with oneself, and change in thought precedes over anything and everything. What students like Gurmehar Kaur are doing is not a protest fundamentally. It’s a movement towards attaining and understanding one’s fundamental rights. Let us all rise along this movement and take one step forward to effective realization of freedom of speech.