The ABVP and its trolls have successfully managed to bully a 20-year-old into withdrawing from a campaign against the student body that she was part of. Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur, who got death and rape threats after her campaign against the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, has been provided "adequate security", the Delhi police said on Tuesday.
A day after the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) wrote to Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik on Monday regarding the threats Gurmehar was receiving, an FIR was filed.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police of the area then spoke to the Lady Shri Ram college student and provided necessary security, the police added.
Joint Commissioner of Police Dependra Pathak told IANS that the FIR had been filed under Section 67 of the IT Act and Sections 354 A (sexual harassment) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
Gurmehar’s social media campaign against ABVP went viral and many college students also took to posting messages against the violence and disruption perpetrated by the right-wing students group at Ramjas college.
However, following the online abuse against her, Gurmehar announced on Tuesday that she was withdrawing from the campaign. "I'm withdrawing from the campaign. Congratulations everyone. I request to be left alone. I said what I had to say..." Kaur said. She posted a status update on Facebook and also tweeted the message.
But even as she withdrew her campaign, voices against ABVP have been growing with many students and even teachers coming forward to say that free debate and discussion is being curtailed.
On Monday, the English department of Lady Shri Ram college issued a unanimous statement in Gurmehar's support.
"We, the faculty members of the English Department, Lady Shri Ram College unequivocally and strongly support our student Gurmehar Kaur and her right to express her opinion on issues that embroil our university.
It is immensely gratifying to us as her teachers that she has responded sensitively, creatively and bravely to events in her immediate context rather than seek the safe refuge of silence," reads an excerpt from the statement.
It also emphasised that educational institutions should "nurture sensitive, responsive and critical thinking students without the fear of violent retaliation" and that the threats of violence Gurmehar was receiving where "reprehensible".
The statement also named Virender Sehwag and Randeep Hooda and said their responses amounted to "shameful trivialization of the intimidation that Gurmehar faces at the hands of violent mobs".
Gurmehar had posted the following picture after ABVP members disrupted a seminar organised by Ramjas college, to which JNU students Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid were invited.
Image source: Twitter
On February 22, ABVP staged protests calling the JNU students “anti-national” and pelting stones, forcing the college to cancel the session.
After Gurmehar’s campaign was emulated by many others, someone dug up an old video of Gurmehar’s where she makes a case for peace between India and Pakistan.
One such screenshot from the video began doing the rounds on social media. It had Gurmehar holding up a placard which read: “Pakistan didn’t kill my dad, war did.”
Already under fire for speaking up against ABVP, social media was quick to jump on her again. She then received rape and life threats on social media by some who called her "anti-national".
It wasn’t just trolls, even MoS Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Member of Parliament Pratap Simha jumped into the fray to criticise Gurmehar. The latter even compared her to Dawood Ibrahim.
Soon, more powerful men jumped in to ridicule her, including cricketer Virender Sehwag and Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda, who trolled the young woman on Twitter. Combined, the two men have over 9 million followers.
Called out by various media outlets for trolling and bullying Gurmehar, Randeep Hooda took to Facebook on Monday to justify his actions. He said that if Gurmehar spoke up for something she believed in, she should also have the courage “to listen to the voices against it.”
(With IANS inputs)