Gurmehar Kaur in Mumbai for Congress event, raises eyebrows

Sep 06, 2018, 08:00 IST | Hemal Ashar

However, both Gurmehar Kaur and the Congress party spokesperson claim that the talk session around #MeToo is not a political programme

Gurmehar Kaur in Mumbai for Congress event, raises eyebrows
Gurmehar Kaur

Gurmehar Kaur, the Delhi student, became a poster girl for 'anti-saffron' movement when she stoked controversy in 2017 during the Ramjas College riots. With dissent key in the city today, Kaur will take centre stage at an event called '#MeToo But Are You Listening?' where she will share the dais with Sushmita Dev, president, All India Mahila Congress and Priyanka Chaturvedi, national spokesperson, INC.

The moderator of the event that takes place at 6.30 pm at Y B Chavan, Nariman Point is Sanjay Jha, national spokesperson, Indian National Congress and President of the All India Professionals Congress. An interview with Sanjay Jha on whether Gurmehar Kaur is being primed for the Congress party.

Why is the Congress featuring Gurmehar Kaur in this programme?
The Congress has recently launched the All India Professionals Congress (AIPC) to provide a vibrant platform to urban middle-class to participate in the political and policy process. We discuss matters of national and local interest; from fire safety norms in Mumbai, air pollution in Delhi, the rising threat of communal polarisation across the country, to the disconcerting dilution of the RTI Act. Over the last four years the rising incidence of crimes against women, social media trolling, poor gender equality are core issues in women's empowerment. Gurmehar Kaur represents a remarkable symbol of a determined young Indian, whose contribution to standing up for free speech and not getting intimidated by goons stands out.

Sanjay Jha
Sanjay Jha

Is Gurmehar joining the Congress party?
I have no idea about her political predilections, if any. The AIPC Interactive event will discuss #MeToo and several other aspects that impact women in India currently. It is a bipartisan, dispassionate, non-political conversation.

Gurmehar claims that if there was peace between India and Pakistan, her father would still be alive — but she does not often point out that unlike what has been widely reported, her father was not killed in Kargil. (He was killed in an Islamist attack while posted to defend the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims).
It is a deeply emotive subject for a girl who lost her father when she was still a child. She was speaking against hate, violence and divisiveness that fractures a society. We all know that many innocent people die simply because they happen to be unfortunate victims of sinister revenge. It is sad. I am sure she will share her thoughts on this sensitive issue. The fact that she was abused for speaking for peace is a commentary on the times we live in. (Kaur however insisted that her father was martyred in the Kargil war).

Where has Gurmehar been all this while and is she the new anti-saffron poster girl – after Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid?
I follow her on Twitter and I can see that she believes in a secular democracy. She has addressed several gatherings and has written her book, Small Acts of Freedom, to express her thoughts. She is now, in the absence of better words, a constructive social crusader. It will be terribly unfair to bracket her on an ideological straitjacket, although nothing stops her from believing in her ideology and values. India needs more gutsy Gurmehar Kaurs.

'I am not joining the Congress'
Gurmehar Kaur said that she is not joining the Congress. "I still have a year to complete my college," said the student. Gurmehar added, "This is a book event and it is about a cause close to my heart, which is empowerment. I will go to an event of any political party that invites me, if I believe in the party. I will not go to a BJP event though because I have ideological differences with the party and am anti-saffron."

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