NEW DELHI: Army veterans in Punjab have stepped forward to fight a legal battle on behalf of Gurmehar Kaur, the daughter of an army martyr, who started a social media campaign against the ABVP.
The mother of the 20-year-old Delhi University student, whose defiant stand against the ABVP drew a volley of hate messages on her Facebook account, however, refused to be drawn into the controversy over it.
When contacted, Rajvinder Kaur said, “No thanks… I do not want this controversy to go on.”
Punjab State Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association (Sewa) president Col (retd) Kuldip Singh Grewal vowed to fight a legal battle on Gurmehar’s behalf “till the matter reaches its logical conclusion”.
“Her opinion should be respected as she has the right to raise her voice,” he said.
“No one should remain unaffected when a daughter is threatened with rape. The people of the country should raise their voice to protect the daughter of a martyr,” Col (retd) Tejinder Singh Bajwa, a member of the association, said.
Gurmehar’s father Capt Mandeep Singh was commissioned in the 49 Army Air Defence Regiment in 1991 and was serving with the 4 Rashtriya Rifles battalion when he died fighting militants on August 6, 1999.
Brigadier (retd) Ashwini Kumar, former Commanding Officer of the 3 Rashtriya Rifles battalion, who was serving in the area when the attack on Capt Mandeep’s company took place, said, “The Captain and his men fought against militants with great courage and they were given a befitting reply.”
Mandeep’s brother Davinderdeep Singh, a professor at a college in Nakodar at Jalandhar — Gulmehar’s hometown, said his brother would have stood like a rock behind her.
“She is entitled to her opinion… She did not say anything anti-national,” he said.
Meanwhile, a number of ex-servicemen and representatives of various organisations condemned the rape threat to Gurmehar and appealed to the Delhi government to provide “proper security” to her.
Col (retd) Tejinderpal Singh said, “Gurmehar is not fighting a war or Pakistan or any political party. She wants peace in the country… She is against war.”
Wrestlers Geeta and Babita Phogat and Yogeshwar Dutt also joined the likes of cricketer Virendra Sehwag and actor Randeep Hooda in trolling the DU student.
“We Phogat sisters are from Haryana too. What do you know about Haryana? Is it right to talk in favour of someone who doesn’t talk in favour of her nation?” Babita posted on Twitter.
Adding fuel to the fire, Olympic medal winning wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt posted a meme with an image of Gurmehar along with that of Adolf Hitler, Osama Bin Laden and a black buck.
The picture of Hitler read, “Did not kill jews GAS DID.” Bin Laden’s said, “Did not kill people BOMBS DID.” And the one with a black buck had “Bhai didn’t kill me BULLETS DID” written on it.
— Yogeshwar Dutt (@DuttYogi) February 28, 2017
Gita Phogat said, “If you speak against the nation, people will obviously not like it; irrespective of gender, the person won’t b spared.”
Jo aapne desh ke haq m bat nhi kar sakti uske haq m bat karna thik h kya??? https://t.co/t4Xb0AELHi
— Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) February 27, 2017
I condemn rape threats If log iss tarah se dhamki de rahe h to ye bahut hi galat bat h.Lekin m aapne desh k khilaf single word nhi sun sakti https://t.co/ImlEb4dj6c
— Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) February 28, 2017
Her sister Babita tweeted, “Gurmehar Kaur’s view that her father was killed by war and not Pakistan was wrong for me. It’s against our nation and martyrs.”
Meanwhile, Dal Khalsa and its youth wing Sikh Youth of Punjab blamed the RSS and its offshoots, especially the ABVP, for fuelling “intolerance” in the country.
Dal Khalsa leader H S Dhami, spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh and youth wing head Paramjit Singh Tanda said since the BJP has come to power at the Centre, power has gone to the head of the ABVP.
“After playing havoc at Ramjas College in Delhi, these power-drunk elements repeated the same at Panjab University in Chandigarh.
“More than intolerance, it’s a design to impose Hindutva’s new definition of nationalism on others who do not subscribe to it,” they alleged and said their organisation will take such people head-on.
Gurmehar’s grandfather Kanwaljeet Singh urged politicians to refrain from giving statements on her granddaughter.
“They are enacting a drama, this should not be highlighted. Politicians must refrain from giving statements. She is just a young girl… Do not they see a daughter in her,” he said.
Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi asked people to support Gurmehar. “We will go all out to protect her honour and dignity. No one should think she is alone. She is a woman of substance,” he said.
CPI executive member Joginder Dayal said someone had to take lead in confronting the ABVP which, with the support of BJP leaders, wanted to crush all dissenting forces in the country.
“Gurmehar has taken the lead and all right-thinking people in the country should support her to stall the taking over of educational institutions by the right-wing forces and their associates,” he said.