New Delhi: Cricketer Gautam Gambhir on Wednesday came out in support of Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur, saying that “she is entitled to her opinion” and “mocking her is despicable”.
“The freedom of expression is absolute and equal for all. High time we learnt that and practised it daily in every sphere of life,” tweeted Gambhir.
In a video message embedded in the tweet, he added: “…the recent events have left me with a sense of disappointment. We live in a free country where everyone is entitled to their opinion.
If a daughter who lost her father puts up posts about the horrors of war with the intention of achieving peace, she has all the right to (do so). It’s not an opportunity for everyone to show how patriotic they are and gang up on her and mock her. She is entitled to her opinion just as every other citizen is. Everyone may not agree with her, but mocking her for it is despicable.”
The 20-year-old student of Lady Shri Ram College, daughter of an Indian Army captain who died fighting militants in Jammu and Kashmir, has been trolled on social media over her stand against ABVP and an earlier video campaign advocating peace between India and Pakistan.
Former India cricketer Virender Sehwag, Olympic medalist Yogeshwar Dutt, and wrestler sisters Geeta and Babita Phogat were among those who questioned Kaur’s views.
Sehwag, however, sought to de-escalate the situation with a series of tweets on Wednesday, condeming rape threats and violence against Kaur and upholding her right to free speech. “My tweet was an attempt to be facetious rather than one to bully anyone over their opinion. Agreement or disagreement wasn’t even a factor… She has a right to express her views and anyone who threatens her with violence or rape is the lowest form of life… Everyone has a right to express their views without being bullied or threatened. Gurmehar Kaur or the Phogat sisters,” he tweeted.
“D in Democracy stands for Dissent. Whoever tries to drown a voice is violating the sacred code. Let there be opinions,” tweeted cricketer and commentator Aakash Chopra. “Here’s to strong women… May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them. #GurmeharKaur.”
“Sad to see sportspersons getting involved without knowing the context of the message…that is peace,” tweeted badminton star Jwala Gutta.
In the past, Gambhir has aired his opinion on a range of issues — from supporting Dangal star Zaira Wasim and BSF constable Tej Bahadur Yadav to criticising Railways’ failure to avoid train accidents.