NEW DELHI: Hailing her as a “free speech warrior”, Times Magazine has included Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur in its list of Next Generation Leaders for 2017.
Gurmehar, the only Indian in the list, is a daughter of an Indian Army captain who was martyred while fighting terrorists in the troubled region of Jammu and Kashmir.
In Feburary this year, Gurmehar along with fellow students of Delhi’s Ramjas College raised her voice to protest campus violence involving the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). She posted a photo of herself on social media holding a placard reading, “I am a student from Delhi university. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone.”
As soon as the image went viral, another picture from an earlier online campaign to promote peace between India and Pakistan surfaced on social media.
The image taken from a video of her from 2016, showed Gurmehar holding a placard saying, “Pakistan did not kill my dad, war killed him.”
Following which Gurmehar received rape and death threats from online trolls and also became center of a national debate on free speech and dissent in an increasingly nationalistic India.
Despite being at the center of the controversy, she refuse to be silenced.
“Why should I keep quiet? While I never asked for it, I was pushed to the forefront. I realised that people listen to what I say. And if I have something positive to say, why shouldn’t I say it?” She was quoted as saying by the Time Magazine.