Gambhir speaks out in support, Sehwag defends post.
New Delhi: From cricketers to Bollywood celebrities, DU student Gurmehar Kaur, who is in the eye of a storm over her campaign against the ABVP, has been receiving continuous support for expressing her opinion against the politicisation of university campuses. While Bollywood celebrities like Vidya Balan, Anurag Kashyap, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Vishal Dadlani and cricketer Gautam Gambir came out in her support on Wednesday, the Punjab police provided security to her at her native place in Jalandhar.
Gambhir came out in support of the DU student even as cricketer Virender Sehwag defended himself after facing a backlash for ridiculing her. Gambhir asserted that mocking or “ganging up” on Kaur, a martyr’s daughter, for her views on the “horrors of war” was “despicable”. “Freedom of expression is absolute and equal for all,” he tweeted.
Gambhir’s views are in stark contrast to Sehwag’s opinion on the issue. Incidentally, the two had opened innings for Team India for a long time. In a series of tweets, Sehwag defended himself, claiming that his social media post in reply to Ms Kaur was an “attempt to be facetious” rather than one to bully anyone over their opinion, adding that agreement or disagreement was not even a factor.
“She has a right to express her views and anyone who threatens her with violence or rape is the lowest form of life. Everyone has a right to express their views without being bullied or threatened. Gurmehar Kaur or the Phogat sisters,” Mr Sehwag tweeted.
In his statement, Gambhir said he has utmost respect for the Indian Army, however, the recent events have left him with a sense of disappointment. “We live in a free country where everyone is entitled to their opinion. If a daughter who lost her father puts up posts about the horrors of war with the intention of achieving peace, she has all the right to do so.”
“It is not an opportunity for everyone to show how patriotic they are and gang up on her to mock her. She is entitled to her opinion just as every other citizen is. Everyone may or may not agree with it but mocking her for it is despicable,” Gambhir said.
Urging people to respect other’s freedom of expression, actress Vidya Balan said, “I don’t want to say much. I think what we really need to do is respect people’s freedom of expression. ‘He said something she said something’, all are right in their place. But I don’t want to add anything more, everyone has the right to express what they feel.”
Film director Anurag Kashyap, who in the past has also spoken about the increasing attack on creative freedom, said social media was being used to create polarisation. “Isn’t it so obvious... Picking on a silent video from two years ago, the Padmavati incident, the Ramjas incident, Tarek Fateh incident, all else that’s going wild on Twitter and Facebook is being used to create polarisation, so that the elections have a desired result by those in control,” he wrote on Facebook.
The filmmaker said by reacting, “we are all participating in it and perpetuating it. That’s why I have been away for sometime and have come back to put this thought out there so one thinks about it... They are also using our reactions and provoking us because
it helps their cause.. And we are giving it to them.”
Another Bollywood director Tigmanshu Dhulia said the fact that an innocent student is being targeted makes him sad. “She is an innocent girl, she said something and it’s sad all the prominent people are commenting on that. They have made her life difficult. I feel very bad, helpless. If the majority thinks like this I don’t think the nation is moving on the right path,” he said.
Music composer Vishal Dadlani said, “I’m a nationalist but goons of ABVP & BJP will NOT define my nationalism. I am answerable to my country, not to any goondas. Jai Hind.” He also posted a photo that read, “Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”
Filmmaker Shirish Kunder slammed the incident on Twitter saying, “A student silently protests against violence. The entire Establishment gangs up against her. Shows the power of two S’s: Silence & Students.”
In Jhalandhar where Gurmehar is presently residing, the police provided her protection by posting two women constables outside her house. Jalandhar Commissioner of Police (CP) Arpit Shukla said, “I have put up two lady constables at her residence.” The security has been provided in the wake of “some threats” she had received earlier, he added.
A case of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation was registered by Delhi Police against unknown persons in connection with the alleged rape threats to Ms Kaur after violent clashes at DU’s Ramjas College between ABVP and AISA members.