My Indian Life: Peace and protest (Podcast) – BBC News
hello and welcome to episode 4 of kalki present my engine life on the BBC World Service that’s what my life is all about real stories from all over India and if you like the podcast please tell everyone spread the word thank you and let’s listen to episode for you post a photograph on social media what sort of response do you expect some like somewhere else perhaps a few heart emojis but not all the messages that I received in the first 30 minutes were threats of rape water to violence were explicit descriptions of how they feel that I should be raped but this is what I got and with that she was thrust into the spotlight one day I was a college student worrying about my class assignments what movie was going to watch that weekend and the next day I had all the entire countries press outside my college from the BBC World Service this is my Indian life the podcast about what it means to be young and Indian in the 21st century oncology Caitlin this series of podcasts tell stories about some incredible people who persevere fight All Odds this is episode 4 feast and protest remember to let me know what you think of the podcast leave comments or ratings if there’s a way of doing that wherever you found us we are at BBC World Service on Twitter use the hashtag my Indian life or go to the BBC World Service Facebook page everyone to know about my Indian life today’s episode is about a peace activist who’s been at the center of a bitter and polarizing debate on nationalism and descent Central to this story is the loss of a parent early in life and the struggle to come to terms with that I was 3 years old when I lost him I understood that my father died that lumicor is a twenty-one-year-old Delhi University student who has been called a champion of free speech she’s featured on the Time Magazine list of next-generation leaders for 2017 and one newspaper has called her The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest comparing her to Lisbeth Salander the unconventional hero of the hit series of Scandinavian crime Thrillers her critics have called her naive and misguided and much much worse here’s how events unfolded in February last year the abvp which is a right-wing student organization Affiliated the agenda party for college to cancel a literary seminar at which Mr Khaled was due to speak Immokalee the student of delhi’s jnu university has openly spoken about his support for those who want an independent Kashmir abvp has called him Auntie India and anti-national as you probably know is disputed Territory between India and Pakistan and the neighbors have fought two Wars and a limited conflict in kargil over the region since the late 1980s Kashmir has been in the grip of a violent Insurgency and many Indians believe that it isn’t and supported by Pakistan something that Pakistan denies the next state to left-wing student groups protested against the avdp at the college violent clashes broke out between the two sides many students teachers and journalists covering the protests were injured both sides blamed each other TVP spokeswoman in a bit but first grandma has account she says she’s an independent activist and not part of any political group but she regularly participate in Auntie abvp protest on that day said that she a friend visiting has skip the meeting because she had other things on her mind I turned my phone on and I connect to the Wi-Fi off my house and I got all these images of violence on my WhatsApp group like WhatsApp Plus crew from the friend it just hit me that this actually happened these are my friends to 3 hours ago asked me if I wanted to come for the same protest where one of them was pulled by the hair and the other had a lot to you and her and it’s all and it was all these images of weddings at once and I think sometimes it was the survivors good because I could have gone that that’s poking to find a black piece of going to out the door that has been apart of these organisations before and it just hit me that this one-time how can I not speak up I’ve been trying to be there for all these other people how am I going to be there for my own friend for women over those that I see around in college everyday and I have to do something and or be loved the hospital a couple of minutes walk from the lady Shri Ram College roommates but at the time of the protest they were living in different room come in Tell City dining room asleep and this is where I had an OVI describe the changes in the room the new residents have made and used to be food with posters around violence they sat in his room did a brainstorm and came up with a plant would hold a placard with a message or we would take a photograph of it and turn on Facebook when we visit a year later there are other students living in the room but forgot my hair and OVI memories came flooding back to them or three points out what used to be her table where my hair she says first typed out the message on her phone grandma has writing is of course not that nice and legible so I decided I’ll write it and I took her phone and I rode down the message on a placard with no felt tip pens and and then we decided we’ll take a picture of Groom hair with it but first gurmehar changed into a red t-shirt she borrowed from Ovi plain t-shirts and not like we’re not morning but serious but angry it has to be there and I change the chair light wood her t-shirt the next question was where to take the photograph sensor posters on my walls we decided that we would take it against this white door right here the photo was taken on government house phone so I give him my phone and the craziest thing about it is that we got the picture and she just took five quick pictures and that was it and I remember and I think it was the first one MVP of each other’s pictures and he knows for a fact that something you have to antique and it was there I remember looking at my face in the picture was like God I’m really serious but this works this is what you want to do Railroad on the placard but that photograph is everywhere on the internet so I know what’s on it it said I’m a student from Delhi University I am not afraid of abvp I am not alone once the photograph was posted on Facebook it went viral and student cross college campuses began sharing it but then trolls began attacking her viciously on social media they dug out an early photographic gurmehar was seen holding a flag it said Pakistan did not kill my dad War killed him she has described her father’s death as the biggest loss of her life and that has had a lasting impact on her whole life Captain Mandeep Singh was an Indian army officer who was killed militant attack in Kashmir in 1999 when she was a toddler girl Sonic ancient and herpes dog did not go down well with the Nationalist who immediately dubbed her as Auntie India BJP politicians a Bollywood actor and a popular cricketer joined in ridiculing her until it was pointed out that the younger they were calling Auntie National was the daughter of a martyr but I’m often used to describe soldiers dying in the line of duty expect reactions on the trolling and all of that I remember the notifications on my phone blowing up I remember I got locked out of my phone because there was so many threats that I could not swipe I cannot open my phone I cannot type in my password the notification was coming every second and it just blew up when I said you up it literally mean that was logged out of my phone tell people could stop sending me a notification I could find time to type my password in I couldn’t I couldn’t read them because they were coming so fast whenever I could never read what the whole thing was because I was just coming one after the other one of the other guy was like locked out of my phone open them all the notifications that I received all those 30 minutes continuously were all threats of violence of rape abuse they were very sexual sentences of men to attack me it was disturbing to see that this is how people would react to someone wanting peaceful campuses and good relations with the neighbors she did get some support as activist journalist and civil suits members join the debate on freedom of speech patriotism peace with Pakistan and violence against women but a week later go to my head withdrew from the campaign to protest against student violence on campuses to the critics to accuse her of being weak she said she had true enough and that was all her 20 year old self could take Grandma her says her activism her aversion to war and her campaigning for peace are all rooted in the loss of her father other part of the world and we’re just don’t want other girls to go through the kind of loss that I have been through her to live a life that they don’t come back to normal home with two parents tell me about your first memory the loss of your father I was 3 years old when I lost him I understood that my father died I just know that was that is something I understood because as a child as a five-year-old six-year-old seven-year-old almost televised in first and then walk back you know I know he died but I hope that he’s going to come back I remember the coffin coming in yeah I remember him being there and sleeping and I remember I remember being on my knees and just think that it’s so loud here that so many people howling around me and yet he’s sleeping and just me wondering if I wake him up with my thought she’s going to get up and he’s just sleeping right now and I remember asking mom what the coffin was I didn’t understand why he’s in a wooden box so I went to my mom and ask her what does this and she looks like me and she’s like it’s a dream and for the longest time in my life I kept thinking of an is called a dream and then as you were growing up you said that your mom really should have kept the memory alive and what was it that she told you about yourself she had nobody else to talk to she would try and talk to her mother but then her mom would start feeling for her she would try and speak to her friends then they would be a sense of sympathy I or suggestions or advice sometimes I want to talk about abortion without labeled as somebody who needs help or advice so I remember my mom having conversations with me and I remember her sometimes just talking in the air and me being present in the room I don’t even think of a woman that she was talking about my father to me but you were just talking about him and I was I just happened to be in the room so I we had a lot of conversations like that she wrote a book last year small at the Freedom by sheet about him extensively go to my head says it’s a tribute to her father and that she’s been constructing the book in a mine since she was 12 because she’s always felt his presence in her life He’s just never not there 20 years 19 years later oh he still here if you still present in my life as he would have been had he been hurt in the back of my head what do I want to do in life how will what do you think about that and you know I’d like to me that’s just keeping him alive just keeping him very relevant in my life even after not seeing him for all these years she grew up hearing was very brave and said she wanted to be like him she thought it would make her mom happy if she saw a watered-down version of him in her losing a parent is tough at any stage in life more so when it happens in childhood when one is unable to make sense what really happened go to my heart says for many years she struggled with hate and anger towards Pakistan because on the day her father’s coffin came home she was told that he died in war and that Pakistan was responsible for it and that led her to doing something really sure when she was still a tiny child being so mad about a lot of time that I try to stop because I because I was just five-years-old connections that the incident that happened in the town of side and fur in a market where you could buy kitchen utensils I don’t know how they keep the knives now but they would keep knives in a glass just there so was I was hoping that my mother and my messy and they’re just doing their shopping and I see this woman in a burka and 200 walking walking towards the end connection of like I have to prove myself like I’m going to take the stove and then I’m 5 years old and then I ran to her that my mom picked me up before I could really do anything before anybody noticed nothing but when 1 year old person thinking about a five-year-old child wanting to stab somebody it scares me I think over the years and I thought about this incident in particular it down and process emotions anger of Revenge and I feel like I’m so glad I got to do it because I see other people struggling with that right now watch older people wanting to your hate on other communities to ensure that her daughter didn’t grow up with that hate Gomez mother put her in meditation classes she also made her join dance and tennis lessons so that she could Bend her aggression on the court go ahead was good at tennis and before knee injury Foster to Bauer in 2015 she participated in several International tournaments held in India but she played with a lot of pakistanis she says that’s what made her realize how much the neighbors have in common they speak the same language have similar culture and eat the same food she says it’s time to move Beyond conflict and hatred have conversations at least have conversations about conversations her critics still have no time for her pacifism junket tablets 25 a law student at Delhi University and has been a member of the abvp for the past 6 years sitting on the Lawns of the University’s Arts faculty on a breezy cool morning she defends the abvp for not wanting a marcala to speak at the ram just College event Bianca says she has sympathy for her but does not agree with her the father he was the one who lay down his life for the unity sponsibility to what’s the nation she has all the freedoms to join whatever organization she want as a as an activist I do not agree with her idea of skating with the organization that are always into propagating agendas that talk about breaking India and influence by the wrong people uploaded what you should not say that we will break into pieces of this should be a referendum on Kashmir because it hurts it hurts of the nationalism that exist because there are people who are there what does sacrificing their life every minute as students the idea of the nation that we whole it breaks it do you think that you can tolerate anybody who talks about breaking your house into pieces tell me you won’t but anyway thumbs up against a table using your mother would you do it we are Sons and Daughters of this world is very motherland and he’s talking about breaking it into pieces how can you tell read that this is no freedom of speech I’m sorry that I restrictions these are descriptions that guard my heart finds patronising an unfair she says her pacifism her anti-war stance is rooted in her life experiences I have to face the reality of what happens afterward you taking classes about it and you know you got a filling pieces about it but I’ve left it strongly believe that we should not have one in the world and I don’t think that’s the wrong starts to have I really do not wish work on anybody else but my head says that when she was 15 she thought she could fix the world at 21 she’s more realistic doesn’t have answers to questions such as how can the Kashmir issue be resolved how can we have lasting peace between India and Pakistan but one thing that she is certain about is that anger begets anger and hate begets hate and that it’s important I have a dialogue to move forward but not talking about peace she says we are killing that option right now thank you from pondicherry this is my home this is where I was born and I’ve got quite a few memories here over here and back visiting my family for a few days and I’m looking at your emails and messages on social media a huge thanks got in touch I want to share with some of you have said after hearing other Thea the man who struggles to speak because of his stammer but finds his voice when he sings as in his fighting Spirit and the great of sticking to the singing life in the midst of his daughter I can relate to this because I too would start ordering school and college life but when writing the words help me express my thoughts with my characters I delved the poetry and later into stories to take a deep breath and exhale slowly and steadily thoughts aloud to the person and that I am in the real world singing to a different tune reminds me of my brother and his – dammerung witchy face when he was a child I love that there’s voice and I’m so happy now everything is turned out for him it reminds us yet again of stereotypes and prejudices week Freon with us for no reason and that it’s time we shut them off and actually told us that he listen to the episode 3 on his morning walk and it put a smile on his face he said I could relate to in myself the aspiration with which I chose to leave my life is no different than that of other the living life without head held high and wearing that make people like us and I was treated that completing sentences for people who stammer is so natural but so rude I guess we need better counseling as kids when we make fun of others who stammer where at BBC World Service on Twitter and Facebook I hashtag is my Indian life and you can email us at my Indian life at bbc.com in the next episode leap of faith in a nation’s journey into space I hope you’re enjoying listening to my Indian life if you haven’t already do listen into the first three episodes and do keep telling everyone you know about this podcast thanks for listeningGurmehar Kaur is a student activist who finds herself at the heart of the Kashmir dispute. This is her story – of death threats on one side, support on the other.
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