Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday came out in support of Lady Shri Ram College student Gurmehar Kaur, who has received considerable flak for standing up against Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad – the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Tharoor, in a Facebook post, took on veteran cricketer Virender Sehwag who had mocked Kaur in reference to a video she had made in April 2016 about war, which had nothing to do with the #StudentsagainstABVP campaign, but was pulled up as the ABVP’s criticism of her grew.
In her 2016 video, Kaur says her father, who was an Indian Army soldier, was killed by war and not Pakistan. The video was widely circulated after Kaur supported the anti-ABVP protests. Taking a dig at the older video, Sehwag had said, “I didn’t score two triple centuries, my bat did.”
Tharoor said he was disappointed to see that his “cricket hero chose to enter the wholly politicised debate over Gurmehar Kaur’s words”. He added, “Viruji, it does not do justice to the memory of the martyr for any of us to be insensitive to the feelings of his family, however emotional their words may be, since they, not us, have suffered the brunt of the loss.”
Tharoor said Sehwag’s “seemingly witty counter” to Kaur was wrong. “It trivialises a serious issue concerning war, loss, and deeply personal emotions that are felt only by those who have suffered,” he said. Tharoor quoted Franklin Roosevelt who had said, “War is young men dying and old men talking”. He urged Sehwag not to join “the old men who are pouring cold water on Gurmehar Kaur’s hopes and dreams”.
He said he admired Kaur’s courage and conviction, and hoped that she would “learn the importance of nuance in the way she expresses herself”. “Meanwhile, let us give her the moral support her family’s sacrifice deserves.”
Kaur has been at the centre of a controversy since a picture of her holding a placard against the ABVP fracas at Ramjas college went viral. The placard read, “I am a student of Delhi University. I am not afraid of the ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me.”
On Monday, she announced her decision to drop out of the #StudentsagainstABVP campaign. Her mother said she had left Delhi. The Delhi Police on Tuesday filed an FIR in connection with threats made to Kaur on social media. She had approached the authorities on Monday saying she was threatened with rape and violence.