Minister of State for Home, Kiren Rijiju, was campaigning in Manipur when a journalist reportedly showed him "a clipping" of Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur's unique silent protest message, one of many slides she made for a video on peace, that said war, not Pakistan killed her father in Kargil in 1999. Rijiju promptly went on Twitter — the platform where comment is free and facts rarely matter to start a campaign — to claim that Kaur's mind has been polluted. The rest, as they say is history.
However, on Wednesday, Rijiju made another claim that flies in the face of credulity. That he had not even see the entire video, of which the Pakistan slide was a part, before he made the damning claim on the morals, agency and intelligence of the 21-year-old student.
Kaur is a peacenik. And after years of struggling with hatred towards Pakistan, the country she believed robbed her of her father, Kaur finally let go of her hate and decided that the path of peace was in best interest of both nations. She advocated for peace, intervention and accountability in the silent video, through placards she held up to weave together the story of her growing up and coming to terms with loss. "Had there been no war, my father would have been alive," she said.
Rijiju, who probably only saw one slide, and not the entire video, insisted again that Kaur was influenced by the far-Left, who were polluting her mind.
In an interview with NDTV, he said, "It is not presumption, it is clear. She is a young student. She is a 20-year-old girl, she has not see the world yet. She has absolute right to frame her own opinion, but you see she tweeted something and people are using her as a pawn."
"The leftists are using her point. The far leftists are polluting her mind," he said.
However, when asked by interviewer Nidhi Razdan if he had watched the entire video, and knew the context of her message, Rijiju said, "I have not gone through anything, I don't have time also."
"I even don't know what is going on with the lady. I was busy election campaigning in Manipur. I came to Manipur some journalist showed me a clipping. They said the girl said she said her father who was a martyr was killed by the war and not by a Pakistani. So only to that point I said there is not war going on with Pakistan right now," he said.
Rijiju defended his argument saying that India was not at war right now, and jawans were still dying at the border. Gurmehar was thrust into social media limelight because of her campaign against ABVP, the RSS-backed group suspected of having triggered violence in Ramjas college on 22 February.
However, she was called an "anti-national", a popular insult by the far right on social platforms for those who do not believe in their brand of aggressive nationalism, her campaign for peace video from last year resurfaced and was used by celebrities such as Virender Sehwag and Randeep Hooda to mock her stand on Indo-Pak peace.
She refrained from joining the Khalsa college march on Tuesday and has requested for privacy on Twitter. She was supported by many, including army veterans and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, and her fellow students.
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