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Oh, to be 21 again

Oh, to be 21 again

A young woman spoke out against the politics of hate, on friendship with Pakistan, on seeking peace not war. Within minutes she was attacked by the soldiers of nationalism. How dare she challenge the dominant narrative of nationalism? Why should she shoot of the shoulders of a martyred father? Hey, why should a young woman be speaking at all on political issues: students, especially women, are supposed to study, stay silent and not have an opinion. Isn’t that what our patriarchal culture is all about ? So what if she wanted to express herself against the campus violence? She, like many others, is expected to simply hold her peace. And if she does choose to speak, then she must be lampooned, threatened, bullied into submission. I don’t know Gurmehar Kaur. Maybe she is just a teenager who has a romanticised view of Indo PAK relations; maybe she has mixed the issue of campus violence with her own political choices. Maybe she should have expected a hostile reaction for her controversial remarks.

Hell, enough of the maybes: whoever she is, she can’t be branded anti national simply because her views don’t match ours. Who are these thekedars of patriotism who will continue to hand over certificates of nationalism even while threatening a young girl with rape? Truth is: this isn’t about a shrill and polarised ‘nationalism’ debate: it’s about a young woman having the right to speak up without fearing retribution in any form. It’s about the core issue of who was responsible for the violence on the Ramjas college campus in the first place. The goons, whichever political outfit they belong to, must be caught and punished. As for Gurmehar, she will slip out of prime time headlines soon. But atleast for a few hours, she has reminded us of what we all ought to be: brave citizens of this great country who dare to dream differently, who challenge the powerful, who aren’t cowed down by twitter bullies. Oh, to be 21 all over again!

© 2020 Rajdeep Sardesai. All Rights Reserved.

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