Gurmehar Kaur row: Bullies Rijiju and Sehwag need lessons on argument to overcome troll mentality

Gurmehar Kaur's father gave his life in the service of his country. Kaur asked a very fundamental question: how many more fathers will have to do this. She asks why politicians on both sides are unable to come to an agreement and create peace despite the last seventy odd years of Indian Independence.

She is correct, no soldier dies in peace time. They die in War. Armies don't cause war, politicians do. Which may be why so few of our politicians' children actually serve in the Indian Armed Forces. For all their rhetoric (across party lines), there are very few Members of Parliament who will actually commit to have their children serve in India's Armed Forces. The people who will finally die at the end of the day are the fathers of children like Kaur and husbands of India's farmers and the working classes. They sign up for the service to fulfil their national duty. They sign up for India's leaders who send them to war only to have their children be told off by washed-up cricketers and politicians on social media that they have polluted minds if they question the need for war.

 Gurmehar Kaur row: Bullies Rijiju and Sehwag need lessons on argument to overcome troll mentality

Gurmehar Kaur

All ideas are open for debate including those that Kaur has. But one must debate the idea by attacking the idea and not the person. That's the key difference. "Trolling" is the common parlance that once uses to attack a person and not the idea that he/she expressed. Trolling will invite rebuke, whereas attacking an idea will generate an argument, and therefore, will lead to a debate.

Kaur's idea is that "war should have been prevented by politicians on both sides, ergo it is War, not Pakistan that killed her father". The ways to attack her idea, for example, could have been: It was impossible for the Indian Government to negotiate peace with Pakistan despite all our efforts; India did not provoke Pakistan in Kargil but fought a defensive battle and tried to bring an early end to it by negotiating a ceasefire; India's defence strategy always aims to keep casualties to a minimal and our policy is to use armed forces as the last resort; while we regret every loss of life, sometimes war is necessary particularly when dealing with a country that has a separate military and civilian apparatus that don't work in lock-step.

These are just examples of how you engage with an idea. What Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and cricketer Virender Sehwag did was attack Kaur for having an opinion in the first place rather than engaging with her in the numerous (like we mentioned above) decent ways. They decided that attacking her personally for her opinions might be a good idea.

Yes, Rijiju is right. A strong armed force prevents a war, but will he send his children to send to join them? Or, how about Sehwag? Has he even bothered joining the Indian Territorial Army? (The Indian Territorial Army will be deployed into action in the event of a war). They will most likely do neither. It's easy to scream about going to war. It takes actual courage to do something about it. Courage was something Kaur's father had. Courage is something actual serving members of the Indian Armed Forces have. Courage is something their families have. Cowardice is what people like Rijiju and Sehwag have when they take to Twitter to attack a college student.

Yet, through this cowardice, they have the gall to chastise Kaur for expressing her angst at the fact that her father was taken away from her when she was just two years old. She is free to express her angst however the way she likes, and those who aren't in her shoes have no right to throw stones at her. Besides, it is unbecoming of a minister of state to say that her mind is "polluted" for questioning why the two countries have to go to war. And, if asking questions like that means having a polluted mind then every initiative for Indo-Pak peace is the outcome of a polluted mind. Initiatives that were taken by Rijiju's own boss, i.e, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would fall within this category by his own statement.

As for cricketers, they are free to say what they like. Their freedom of speech is something that one will not question. But conduct such as this will bring into question their behaviour as gentlemen. Right now Sehwag looks like a big bully. Maybe, he's finally showing us his true colours or is hoping to make a run for the Parliament soon. Either way, one hopes he sobers down and stops bullying college students. It's unbecoming of a gentleman to do so.

The tussle on the DU campus has nothing to do with a minister and other public figures ganging up and bullying a young lady for an opinion she expressed in the past. There is a way to disagree with an opinion: you can attack an argument instead of the person. All Rijiju has done is attack the person, and in this case, he has attacked the daughter of a soldier who gave his life for his country. He has not just made statements that are unbecoming of a minister but has instigated nefarious persons on social media to make threats of violence against her. If Rijiju has any self-respect he should give the lady and unequivocal apology for his remarks.

Updated Date: Feb 27, 2017 20:26:10 IST