Published: 25th January 2018
Kaur agenda: Why Kawalpreet Kaur will always be a symbol of student dissent in Delhi
Remember the girl whose picture was morphed by a Pakistan Defence account. She's not just a victim. She's a firebrand student activist who's creating waves. Her name is Kaur
Kawalpreet Kaur is famous. A Dilli di kudi, people who aren't quite tuned in to the political turmoil brewing in Delhi colleges will know her more as the face in a morphed post by a Pakistani page that was aimed at breeding anti-national sentiment. Remember that image?
In a country where half the population is aged below 50 years, Kawalpreet Kaur has changed her course, literally, to support and hone her passion for activism in her fight against a "dictatorial government". A former President of the All India Students Association (AISA) in Delhi, she is again in the news for meeting Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. asking for a rollback on Metro hike. Their demand is that they get special facilities like the DTC buses and added concessions in the metro as well. Kejriwal has now agreed to support the demand and asked the transport minister to allow students with a bus pass to travel by AC buses which were not allowed earlier.
We want: Kawalpreet and batchmates with Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal who agreed to their demands, including special DTC bsues on January 25
Her stance and criticism of the Centre are not without reason. "They are curbing anybody that criticises them and their bhakts are not a coincidence. They are a well-oiled machinery operated by the BJP to intimidate and control dissenting voices," she opines. Her strong resentment against the government lies not in their governance but, more importantly, in their beliefs and propaganda.
Activism and the DU phenomenon
This invisible immunity given to self-proclaimed nationalists is what makes her blood boil and fuels her need for activism. A student of Psychology in a DU college from 2013 to 2016, she says, "The three years that I studied it (Psychology) sensitised me and made me more patient. I understood that people have different perspectives in life. And I think we need to think of others and what's going on in their minds," she adds.
"They are curbing so much freedom. People I know, including writers and artists, have deactivated their Facebook because of this. If I were to write something against them then I will be trolled badly. This is done just to create a sense of fear and also to villainise a person.0 And nobody wants to end up reading bad things about themselves. This is being done so people stop putting up anything that is a criticism of the government," she says in a fed-up tone.
Some for the team: She has been attacked verbally and trolled but her stance on the issue of the country remains firm
Battling the bhakt brigade
Her encounters with bhakts are not scarce either, with her saying several Modi-followers have trolled her using fan accounts of the PM and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vapayee.
She recollects how before the Pakistani post went viral, these pages had tweeted the same picture with "demolish the Masjid" written on it, "After that, a lot of Indian pages were doing it as well. A guy had posted a picture and somebody tagged me. I complained to the cyber cell about all this but did not get a reply." Her innate fear is that these people are followed online by people in power, which is a secret approval of their nefarious activities, "like the government is promoting it".
These past few months she has had her social media presence tarnished by many people on Twitter after a verified Pakistan Defence account posted a morphed image of her holding an anti-national image, "It was bizarre because had it been a verified account then this could have turned to a diplomatic issue."
Chinese Whisper: Her morphed picture created quite a furore but surprisingly garnered a lot of support from Pakistani citizens
Tweet, tweet...you're an anti-national celeb
Her resentment is only with the page admins and not with the good people across the border, many of whom expressed their distaste towards the post and posted links of the original picture taken in June. "These are people who don't know me yet they found out that I was a student of Delhi University and despite the differences between our two countries were so supportive," she says.
But that wasn't the end, the page, despite requests, did not remove the picture but retweeted it with her comment and maligned her Indianess. After several complaints and reports to Twitter by her and many others, including Pakistani citizens, the page was suspended.
The ABVP, according to her, is an intimidating body on a quest to completely destroy freedom and dissent, including manipulating the University syllabus. Her anger rises from the interference both by the youth body as well as the parent RSS in disrupting events, thought and what they choose to study.