Gurmehar Kaur row: Sehwag's comment wrong, trivialises issues concerning war, says Shashi Tharoor

As opinions clash on whether Gurmehar Kaur was right or wrong in blaming war and not Pakistan for the death of her father Captain Mandeep Singh in the 1999 Kargil War, some like cricketer Virender Sehwag had been at the receiving end for poking fun of what was an idealist view on war and its effects. Sehwag had earlier tweeted a picture of him in a style similar to Kaur's video with a placard that read: "I didn't score two triple centuries, my bat did." While some saw Sehwag's tweet as a clever remark, several people found it in poor taste and compared it to bullying. The latest of them is Congress leader and author Shashi Tharoor who took to Facebook on Monday to share his "brief reflections on Sehwag's picture tweet responding to the words of Gurmehar Kaur".

Here's the full text of his post:

I am disappointed that my cricket hero Virender Sehwag chose to enter the wholly politicised debate over Gurmehar Kaur’s words by saying “I didn’t score two triple centuries, my bat did.”

Not everyone might agree with an idealist student’s comment: “Pakistan did not kill my father, war killed him.” We all know that "war" does not happen in the abstract, but as the result of concrete policies pursued by governments and armies. We also know that the Kargil War that killed Gurmehar's father was imposed on India by Pakistan, and it was a tragedy inflicted on her family, and hundreds of other brave soldiers' families, by malign men across the border. It might be more correct, therefore, to say "All Pakistanis did not kill my father; those Pakistanis who started this war killed him."

But who are we, who have not endured what Gurmehar did at a tender age, to substitute our worldly-wise realpolitik for the idealism of a 20-year old student? Viruji, it does not do justice to the memory of the martyr for any of us to be insensitive to the feelings of his family, however emotional their words may be, since they, not us, have suffered the brunt of the loss, and is their prerogative to react to that loss.

You used to silence opposition bowlers with the power of your bat. Do not let cynics exploit the power of your words to silence a young woman's idealism.

Debates on television channels, lacking in nuance and, in some cases, basic common sense, missed the point that she used the correct word “war”. She did not say “bullets”. Her point was that it was not just the bullets that killed him, but the war that caused those bullets to fly. So it was not just your bat that scored those triple hundreds, Viruji, but the man who wielded that bat to such astonishing effect.

That is why your seemingly witty counter to her is not only wrong, it also trivialises a serious issue concerning war, loss, and deeply personal emotions that are felt only by those who have suffered.

War is still, as Roosevelt said, "Young men dying and old men talking". You are too young to join the old men who are pouring cold water on Gurmehar's hopes and dreams.

I remember something you said some years ago, I believe during your convocation ceremony at Jamia Millia, where you were presented with your degree. You said then that this degree was more important to you than your triple hundred.

I hope, Viruji, that you will now revisit what that degree stands for, and what is expected not only from a public figure of your standing but also from an evolved, educated mind.

I admire that Gurmehar has the courage of her convictions and is willing to stand up for them. In time, she will learn the importance of nuance in the way she expresses herself, so as not to incur this kind of criticism. Meanwhile, let us give her the moral support her family's sacrifice deserves.

Jai Hind!

Updated Date: Feb 28, 2017 20:32:28 IST