Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi supported on Monday a martyr’s daughter who has stoked a debate on nationalism following her social media campaign against right-wing students’ organisation Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.
Gandhi posted on Twitter a message in solidarity with Delhi University’s Gurmehar Kaur, who has complained to the city’s women rights panel that she was threatened with rape for her stand against the ABVP, which is affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Gandhi said “we stand with our students” against the “tyranny of fear”, joining the debate at a time the Delhi University was on the boil following clashes between the ABVP and Left-leaning All India Student Association (AISA) last week.
Against the tyranny of fear we stand with our students.For every voice raised in anger, intolerance &ignorance there will be a Gurmehar Kaur— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) February 27, 2017
But moments before Gandhi took to Twitter, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu told ANI that the ABVP was a nationalist organisation. “Why should outsiders go and disturb peace on campuses?” he asked.
He said difference in opinion was acceptable but the idea of disintegration was not. “Certain misguided sections are trying to mislead the young population and create social tensions and hurt sentiments of the people of India,” he told ANI.
Trouble erupted last Tuesday when DU’s Ramjas College invited Jawaharlal Nehru University students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid for a seminar. Khalid allegedly shouted anti-India slogans supporting the secession of militancy-hit Kashmir last February at an event on JNU campus, and was arrested on sedition charges.
The incident triggered a nationwide debate on free speech that was reignited after the ABVP’s protest against the Ramjas College event.
A student of city’s Lady Shri Ram College, Kaur took on the ABVP after violence on February 22. Kaur met Delhi commission for women (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal on Monday and complained against the online threats she had received, a DCW official said.
Kaur had changed her Facebook profile after the violent clashes in the north campus with a picture of her holding a placard which read, “I am a student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me. #StudentsAgainstABVP”.
But she also faced criticism, with ex-cricket star Virender Sehwag and actor Randeep Hooda apparently taking a stand against her on Twitter.