Right wing nationalism in India and its side effects on women safety

Ok, firstly, this is the first controversial topic that I am writing. Secondly, I expect a lot of brickbats and the constructive criticism will be helpful; but [STATUTORY WARNING] any personal attacks or abuses, and the commenter will be blocked and reported to the appropriate administrator/forum support.

There has off late been a lot of right-wing activity in India , and this is understandable; given that the political party in power at the Centre has a right-wing focus. Moreover, their frustration stems from valid reasons – focus towards appeasing the minorities from the previous political party in power, and also anti-national activity happening at a few places, such as the famous Jawaharlal Nehru University in Hyderabad. The right wing targets – people such as Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid – have spoken condemnable things, such as questioning the punishments given to terrorists like Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon who have been responsible for killing hundreds of innocent people, and also demanding a split of the state of Jammu & Kashmir from the country.

The key right wing voice is the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) , a student organization affiliated to the Hindu nationalist social service organization RSS ( Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). It is one of the largest student organizations, with more than 3 million members. While their intent is appreciable, off late they (and other right wing nationalists) have done a lot of discredit to themselves. 20 year old Gurmehar Kaur, student of Delhi University, faced a lot of anger from the right wing, including rape threats; after she made a protest about violence at her college, stating that she was not afraid of ABVP; and also made a video in which she showed her history – regarding losing her father to the Kargil war, and her mother wisely explaining to her that Pakistan did not kill her father but war did.http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi/meet-gurmehar-kaur-the-du-student-and-martyr-s-daughter-who-took-on-abvp/story-dScVooYNLGnhZiC4s3lE0H.html

For just expressing her views, Gurmehar was at the receiving end of shocking anger from the entire right wing (including ABVP), including rape threats. http://www.hindustantimes.com/delhi/du-student-gurmehar-kaur-who-took-on-abvp-approaches-dcw-after-rape-threats/story-3IAiMo6geWWnFriSXClhhK.html

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ramjas-clashes-i-got-rape-threats-for-opposing-abvp-says-kargil-martyr-s-daughter-gurmehar-kaur/story-O6SNKsuOQCfMOq3dtJYb9I.html

http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/270217/kargil-martyrs-daughter-files-complaint-against-abvp-over-rape-threats.html

Moreover, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had the appalling insensitivity to call this brave girl’s mind as ” polluted”. https://twitter.com/KirenRijiju/status/836055440169525249

BJP MP Pratap Simha of Mysuru made a most obnoxious statement comparing Gurmehar with the most wanted don Dawood Ibrahim, mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts. http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/270217/du-campus-row-mysuru-bjp-mp-compares-kargil-martyrs-daughter-to-dawood.html

So-called feminist and political writer Madhu Kishwar (founder-editor of women-oriented journal Manushi) had the temerity to call Gurmehar a “flimsy woman hero” trying to “garner popularity using a stunt”. https://www.thequint.com/india/2017/03/05/madhu-kishwar-gurmehar-kaur-peace-with-pakistan-azadi-slogans-abvp-and-ramjas

That’s quite some info dump for all of you reading this! Anyway, coming to the point; India is supposed to be a democracy. A place where people can express their opinion freely without fear. Including women. Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be the case. It is shocking that a girl, that too a young 20 year old student; can express her views (which are NOT AT ALL anti-national, and completely for peace with our neighbour Pakistan) and receive rape threats in return, including some from a student organization that claims to be patriotic. If you truly love your country, is this the way you treat its women? Remember the Constitution- “India is my country and all Indians are my brothers and sisters.” Will you personally attack, abuse and threaten to rape your sisters?

Poor Gurmehar had to leave Delhi , and was forced to delete her Facebook account. https://thewire.in/112596/as-students-protest-against-abvp-gurmehar-kaur-withdraws-from-campaign-after-threats/

Is this the way a democracy is supposed to run ? And do the women in India truly feel safe ? Apart from rapes happening on a frequent basis, a girl is issued rape threats just for wanting peace between India and Pakistan and speaking out against the right wingers. Why did she speak out ? She is not supporting any anti-national activities, she wants peace and the right wingers (ABVP in this case) were responsible for hooliganism in colleges, which included rape and acid threats to women. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/02/nationalist-group-abvp-accused-delhi-campus-violence-170226050247696.html

Gurmehar is not alone. There are thousands of Indians who are afraid to speak their minds, out of fear of backlash from the right wing hysteria that has gripped the country. And it is equally shameful that there are a lot of people who supported the action of ABVP and its fellow right wing associates; calling Gurmehar an “anti-national”. The worst thing is very few people questioned the lack of women safety in all this hullabaloo. Madhu Kishwar, a supposed feminist, instead of protecting Gurmehar Kaur; mocked her in an abject manner, calling her actions a “popularity stunt”. Where did your sense of women rights and empowerment vanish, Ms. Kishwar ? Or is “nationalism” more important to you? Nationalism that is based on hatred against certain communities and our neighbour Pakistan.

Lets pray for India, particularly for young independent minds like this girl; to have a  bright, peaceful and secure future in this country. But sadly, we will all forget this the moment the Indian cricket team takes on Australia in the 4th and final Test at Dharamsala on Saturday, with the series tied 1-1 and all to play for.

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