Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, on Wednesday said the government will provide security to Gurmehar Kaur, the Delhi University student who has been receiving threats online, The Indian Express reported. Speaking at a programme organised by the English daily, Rijiju said he had directed the Delhi police to take action against those who had threatened the 20-year-old online after she had started a campaign against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

“We are not doing any favour by providing security, it is the absolute responsibility of the government to ensure safety to citizens of this nation,” he said. Every individual in this nation has “absolute freedom” to express their opinion, he said, adding that abusive language on social media will not be tolerated.

The minister also said that the debate around intolerance was “misplaced”. “This debate [intolerance] doesn’t hold any ground...there is absolute right for dissent, disagreement and to criticise the government also,” he said. “It is very healthy in democracy because that brings government to accountability.”

Rijiju said he was not aware of the controversy involving Gurmehar as he was in campaigning Manipur ahead of the Assembly elections there. “A journalist showed me her tweet. I responded to what Gurmehar said about her father,” he told NDTV, adding that he did not know she was being threatened online.

After a picture of Kaur, the daughter of an Army man who died in Kargil, holding a placard (which was part of a silent video) saying “Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him” had gone viral, Rijiju on Monday had tweeted, “Who is polluting this young girl’s mind?” Kaur had also been mocked by cricketer Virender Sehwag and patronised by Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda for her campaign.

On Tuesday, Rijiju had said “leftists” were polluting Kaur’s mind. “It was these leftists who celebrated when Indian Army personnel were martyred in the 1962 [Indo-China] war and raised anti-national slogans.”