An open letter to Gurmehar Kaur

"No one wants war – we do not want violence after all India was born out of Mahatma Gandhi's non-violence movement."

Written by Rajeev Chandrasekhar | Updated: March 3, 2017 3:13 pm
Ramjas protests, Ramjas violence, Gurmehar Kaur, Gurmehar, Martyrs daughter, delhi university protests, delhi news, india news, indian express news Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur. (File Photo)

Dear Gurmehar,

Let me start this letter to you by saying I have always held martyrs and their families with the highest respect. As the son of a veteran, I have lived my entire childhood among men, women and families who served and sacrificed. The service of Martyrs to the Nation is unparalleled and their sacrifices supreme. From Major Som Nath Sharma the first recipient of the Param Vir Chakra who laid down his life in the 1948 Indo-Pak War at the age of 24, 2/Lt Arun Khetarpal at 21 – and then who can forget Captain Saurabh Kalia, Captain Vijayant Thapar and Captain Vikram Batra – all a few years older than you are today. I have had the honour and experience of engaging with families of numerous Bravehearts. It is true that most have no hate or revenge in their hearts – just a desire that others don’t suffer the losses that they did.

And so let there be no doubt in your mind that most in our country consider you and your family as worthy of great respect – for the service and sacrifice of your father Captain Mandeep Singh. What you have gone through, the painful experiences in your life, no child or family should. Losing a father, a husband, son or brother in service of the nation, is a tragedy for any family. And for that, there is only humble salutations and unstinting support that we can offer.

Also Read: Who is Gurmehar Kaur? What is the protest all about?

So I consider it unacceptable that anyone in this great nation of ours would think of anything other than only protecting and supporting you and your family – let alone harassment and violence of the kind in recent days by some on social media. Let me assure you of my complete commitment to your total safety and to your right to speak your mind. That commitment is unambiguous and total – I assure you!

WATCH VIDEO |Vidya Balan Reacts To Gurmehar Kaur Controversy

I have watched your video and heard your views with great interest. I admire your pluck and courage to stand up and speak what you believe in. Your father would be proud of your courage.

University is a point in life when you are free to experiment with thoughts and ideas, including idealism. So here are two points that I want to leave you to think about as well.

The first is the point you make about absolving Pakistan – while I understand your desire for peace, here is where you are wrong about Pakistan. It is not enough to blame killings today on an amorphous concept of war and look for peace. Over 15,000 people alone have lost their lives to terror attacks and so thousands of families have suffered and lost because of violence exported from across the border – into our territory, into our homes. This is the stark reality we must understand. Many thousands of our men in security forces have laid down their lives while protecting against these terror attacks.

No one wants war – we do not want violence after all India was born out of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence movement. But sometimes threats of violence and indeed violence are thrust on us and the nation’s leaders can’t be found wanting then. The 1962 conflict with China should teach us, what happens when seemingly sound moral positions run into nations with a strong force led doctrines of expansion.

Let me quote what President Obama said in his Nobel Peace prize speech in 2009, that may explain the conundrum – between this desire for peace and the need to be also strong militarily to defend ourselves.

“Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem. It merely creates new and more complicated ones. I am the living testimony of the moral force of non-violence and there is nothing weak, nothing passive, nothing naïve in the creed of Gandhi and King.

But I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to my people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s Armies. Negotiations alone can’t convince Al Qaeda to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

So that’s the thrust of the point I want to make to you. I admire your peace activism. But a desire for peace (even one as deeply felt as yours) will not make the terrorists in Pakistan surrender their weapons. In your desire for peace, we cannot forget that Nations do have an obligation to bear arms to defend themselves, defend their people. You father did just that. He and all the others like him fought to protect these values. They didn’t fight because they like war or hated the people in front of them – they served and sacrificed because they loved India and the Indians behind them.

So while I also share your desire for peace – peace doesn’t come from simply desiring it, especially with Pakistan. We (both Indians and Pakistanis) must cause the Pakistan state to change its state policy of supporting terror and doing so by using all possible options and not simply begging or pleading for peace.

The second point is about debating Political issues. I am a strong advocate of young Indians being more politically active and aware. So if you choose to be active politically, more power to you. I am confident that you would carry with you, the values and principles that your father and family hold dear about our country and nationhood. But be aware that politics is as much about aligning with those who agree with you on some issues and at the same time ensuring that the same people don’t have beliefs that are counter to your other core values like national integrity, etc. Also be warned, entering a political debate also means opening yourself to criticism and arguments – this should be expected. It’s sometimes unpleasant and noisy – but that’s the nature of the beast as it is today. So brace and prepare yourself as you plunge in.

I for one believe deeply in our Nation and its younger generation. I hope this letter helps you regain your confidence and composure after the last few difficult days. I also hope through this letter, you are also a little better informed about how others view Pakistan and its terror exports and the need to secure our people.

I wish you and your family the very best.

Jai Hind!

The author is Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha & Vice-Chairman, NDA Kerala. Views expressed are personal.

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  1. Bipin Bhardwaj
    Mar 3, 2017 at 6:07 pm
    No peace no progress, people will remain victims of the great conspiracy of the super powers and enslaved by their economic model of per which was imposed in 1947. Time has come to open the border and settle for permanent peace and drive away the ghost of the colonial legacy together, the police, armed forces, admin, courts the most corrupt system, sucking the blood of the people keeping the richest subcontinent under sub human conditions. Brave Gurmehr has hit the nail on the head.
    1. A
      Mar 3, 2017 at 7:43 am
      The author should write an open letter to Modi, Shah, ABVP goondas instead of Gurmehar Kaur.
      1. A
        Akhilesh Agarwal
        Mar 4, 2017 at 12:55 pm
        The letter sums up what needs to be said. While we talk about everything we should realise irrespective of everything else she is 20 in the university still figuring out what Life is.
        1. A
          Aman Bhinder
          Mar 3, 2017 at 5:04 am
          Mr. Writer, being open to criticismlt;br/gt;is something which can be dealt with but the noise you mentioned isnt abt critique but about silencing her voicelt;br/gt;with violence. She never complained as to why people have a difference f opinion with her, the noise of dissent againts her is meant to put an end to her voice... she was never made a part of debate or again ur moral Policing is a baseless argument...about solving the issues with stan, she expressed her opinion about something she could personally relate to coz f her father, she cant really change anything between two countries, what so many govts. couldn't do in almost 70 years, she doesnt intend to change anything though her video so putting your sense of conflict with stan into her head wont change anything coz she just contributed a bit f her own knowledge to fix something which no one really wants to fix..stead you should write an open letter to all National sports icons who mocked her and tried to impose their Nationalism on her whn thy could hardly relate to her emotions coz thy havent experienced even an iota of what she has in losing her father... thy need moral Policing coz thy further added to the fire against Gurmehar... she didnt deserve this mockery and bullying! She has learnt her lesson and distanced herself away from the noise!
          1. R
            Mar 4, 2017 at 1:10 am
            A generation caught in fancy world of social medial doesnot take the responsibility of its consequences. Miss kaur you definitely had the right to express yourself but please donot express any thoughts of yours on such social media where they explode Unncessarily. Its sadening to see the young minds are so poluted by the so called just for kicks concept that they dont understand their responsibility towards national issues . lt;br/gt;Only question to everyone why are you becoming a political pawn in this new social media world?. Peace comes from within not with a placard , your 5 mins of fame in defaming any political party or criticising national defence policy doesnt show you need peace , rather looks like an attempt of a teenager in desperate need to come in social limelight to show their friends. Its not abt DU JNU or abvp or nsui, after couple of years of college this all fades. You want peace , please do silent work of working for peace or join UN but holding a placard you cannot get peace. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Question to all reader : how come this world Intolerance only appearing since BJP govt in power ? 60 plus years congress made every Indian tolerant of managing without any basic need why we never said anything abt issues that time ?lt;br/gt;Its no longer abt bjp or congress they will come and go but point is when does the youth see the real issues and picture of Indian economic and social;br/gt;Debate for how to get food water road electricity education to 1 billion people, i am a buddhist I support no party no person all i want my country should get out of this caste religion political arena and for once only focus on reforms and needs . lt;br/gt;I support Modi govt for atleast doing 1 percent genuinely for reforms. I m not a bjp or congress but I a common person who just needs basics rather than tongue waging war on nonsense issues on social media . lt;br/gt;Jai Hind!!
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