Gurmehar Kaur controversy: Why the Left-liberals failed

Sunil Rajguru
Sunil RajguruMar 01, 2017 | 15:01

Gurmehar Kaur controversy: Why the Left-liberals failed

What happened in Ramjas College was not about Gurmehar Kaur. But, as usual, the leftists hijacked the moment and shifted the goalposts. Suddenly, Gulmehar Kaur became the core issue in the political melee.

Yes, what happened to her was wrong. The police should book the persons who issued rape threats to her. There should be zero tolerance in that regard.

But there is also the nationalism versus anti-nationalism debate that is raging in this country and many are miffed at the way the debate is losing ground.


Here are some valid points made by the right-wing voices.

1. This is a sequel to the intolerance and "award wapsi" campaign

A big reason why the mainstream media faces castigation is because of the way it presents news — forget opinion pieces, even news stories come with tremendous editorial slant.

The left-wing ecosystem in this country has a certain ideology and supports only those who fit into that category, and opposes the rest.

Just take a look at the following possible headlines…

"Twitterati attacks AAP worker."

"Sangh Parivar threatens Kargil martyr’s daughter."

These two headlines tell a totally different story. If you look at Gurmehar’s social media timeline before she became so famous, you will find an elite “verified” Twitter account, a campaign against demonetisation and lots of retweets from the likes of Vishal Dadlani.

Then come photos and screenshots which make it look like she is virtually campaigning for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

How close were her ties with the AAP? Was she just a supporter or a worker? There was no talk on this and the entire debate instead revolved around an “abused martyr’s daughter”.

It shouldn't come as surprise that Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal sprung to her defence.

This whole thing could well be a continuation of the intolerance and "award wapsi" campaign and the political angle has been totally played down by most media houses.


The much-maligned Robert Vadra tweeted in her favour and she retweeted that. Do we not know that nobody loves Vadra in this country?

Gurmehar's timeline is also full of Sitaram Yechury and the official Congress handle. And this whole issue already reeks of severe political bipartisanship.

2. It’s not really about free speech

The left-wing ecosystem in this country, that also comprises liberals and intellectuals, has a certain ideology and supports only those who fit into that category, and opposes the rest.

Gurmehar fits well in the "Aman ki Asha" and “Pakistan is not our enemy” propaganda. She has had her share of free speech and been on TV channels. In fact, she has had her say in more ways than one. The problem is not free speech, but the intense political bipartisanship.

3. You can't question the integrity of our sportsmen

Just like soldiers represent the country and fight wars, sportspersons too represent the country and fight virtual wars.

Therefore, it is not surprising that so many sportspersons attacked Gurmehar — from ace cricketer Virender Sehwag to wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and the Phogat sisters.

Nationalism is a strong sentiment among sportspersons and they have their reasons to criticise Gurmehar.


But again the debate was hijacked and the media started attacking the sportspersons, calling them trolls who abused a woman. But this is not what befits their stature. This also isn't the stand that they have taken. They were simply hurt by her Pakistan statement.

4. Everyone gets abused, but only some get noticed

Online, US President Trump supporters of all ages and gender get abused. The same with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP supporters. But somehow all that is brushed aside.

In America, the Democratic Party is the gold standard. Democratic supporters can get away with abuse, and can cry hoarse over anything that doesn't suit their agenda.

Likewise in India, the left-wing ecosystem is the gold standard. Their supporters can get away with abuse.

As long as this selective outrage continues, you will never be able to eradicate online abuse. It’s time we crack down on all online abuse, irrespective of ideology.

5. To criticise someone is not trolling

Trolling. Abuse. Threat. Twitter has obfuscated their etymological origins. There was a time when people who would push their way on to your timeline and stalk you were called trolls. But now anyone who criticises you is branded a troll and abuser.

The left-leaning brigade too calls everyone it dislikes a troll, or a racist, or a Nazi.

A person who invades your timeline and rubbishes your logic is a troll. Don’t like it? Block him/her and move on with life. It’s as simple as that. Anyone who abuses you online should be blocked and reported. A person issuing rape threats should be handed over to the police.

These are three different types of people. But if you treat all three as one, you will make things worse.

That is exactly what is happening in the Gurmehar case.

6. ABVP is a rising force, you can't help it

When Modi and Trump were bursting into the political scene they were viciously attacked, but despite that they both came to power.

Now, the same thing is happening with the ABVP. The SFI is the biggest student body. But that is curious because its parent body, CPM, is almost wiped out of India with the exception of Kerala and Tripura.

The AISF’s parent body, CPI, is even more marginalised. And the less said about AISA’s CPI-ML the better.

These student bodies have way too much clout compared to their Communist counterparts in national politics.

But now there's a course correction. The RSS has the largest network. The BJP is the largest party.

The ABVP will soon become the largest student body in India. It is inevitable. But that doesn’t mean people won’t keep trying to clip its wings.

Gurmehar became a martyr’s daughter in 1999. She has had been fighting for peace all through 2016. But became famous only after she took on the ABVP with her placard — "I'm not afraid of the ABVP".

It seems everyone is actually afraid of the ABVP's growing relevance, and that could well be the crux of the problem.

Last updated: March 01, 2017 | 15:01
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