Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today commented on the raging Gurmehar Kaur ‘freedom of speech’ row in which Delhi University’s Lady Shriram College student received rape and death threats on social media after she targetted the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) for preventing Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students from entering Ramjas College for a programme. Gurmehar raised an objection to the resultant violence that was being used to stamp down on free speech. She even posted an anti-ABVP video. Gurmehar was trolled thereafter on the social media and was threatened with violence including rape and death posts. Her views had split the online community down the middle and famous personalities like Virender Sehwag, Babita Phogat and others trolled her for her views, especially where she said that ‘not Pakistan, war killed her father’ (Capt Mandeep Singh was killed during the Kargil War). Conversely, others like Javed Akhtar have come out in her support. Some ministers in the PM Narendra Modi led NDA government like Minister of State (MoS) Home Kiren Rijiju and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said that she was being used as a pawn by unnamed entities. Gurmehar had objected to that line of thought and had said that no one was using her and that she was acting entirely on her own.
Today, in his reaction Minister for Communications & Information Technology and Law & Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad said that ‘trolling Gurmehar was wrong’. However, he also hurried to add that ‘ministers have not made any wrong comments’. According to News18, Prasad said that everyone should respect the martyr’s daughter. He further added, “Everyone has the right to express. But saying that Kashmir or Bastar should be made independent is wrong.”
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Union ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Kiren Rijiju on Monday criticised Kaur. Kiren Rijiju on Monday posted a series of tweets, asking, “Who’s polluting this young girl’s mind?” “Some people say they need freedom in India. Listen to those people taking shelter in India after facing torture in neighbouring countries,” he wrote. He also said that “freedom of expression is not a license to shout anti-national slogans in campuses. Criticise the government but don’t abuse the motherland”.