Gurmehar Kaur, Shehla Rashid interact with Srinagar youth

Gurmehar Kaur, Shehla Rashid interact with Srinagar youth

Discuss ‘Small Acts of Freedom’

Srinagar, Aug 11 (KNS): Delhi University student and renowned peace activist Gurmehar Kaur engaged with Srinagar audiences in her first public interaction in J&K. She read out excerpts from her maiden book ‘Small Acts of Freedom’ before a diverse audience, who, although comprising everyone from journalists, artists and students, were united in their appreciation of literature and the ideals espoused by this activist. She read out the last chapter of her book, which is set in Kashmir.

More importantly, she had written this chapter in Kupwara where her father received martyrdom and one can discern the reason behind such a decision after reading the book. The book reading was followed by a lively interaction with JNU student and prominent activist, Shehla Rashid.

The discussion led to the unraveling of the whole story of how this book came into being and how her childhood experiences shaped her struggle. Her main concern remained the dehumanization of the lives affected by conflicts, irrespective of the side to which they belong. Lastly, a Q&A session with the audience commenced in which Gurmehar and Shehla tackled various queries, ranging from the toxic atmosphere of bigotry in the country to the similarities of her struggle with the lives of countless Kashmiris.

One of the highlights of the event was her response to a hypothetical on her priorities as PM, to which she replied “From a purely humanist perspective, I’d like to resolve the Kashmir issue so that no child in the future is separated from his/her parents and no mind is brought up in the climate of hatred”

Kaur’s own stand against authoritarianism needs no introduction. From campaigning against warmongering to standing up against online harassment faced by women, Kaur has been known to take stances against injustice. She shot to fame when she pushed back against the ABVP (student wing of BJP) members when they disrupted a seminar held in Ramjas College last year where student activists Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid were scheduled to speak.

Gurmehar is living up to her ideals. Her famous placard campaign #StudentsAgainstABVP led to rape threats against her. However, this behavior, instead of cowing her down, made her more determined in her struggle.

World has recognized her courage, with TIME magazine, recently, naming her a Next Generation Leader.

Speaking about the participation of young people in politics, Kaur said that it is the need of the hour for young people to come to politics and shape the destiny of country. “The older generation has messed up things, so my faith lies in youth of the country and their ability to salvage the present.” Kaur is currently working on her second book revolving around youth in politics.

Shehla Rashid, herself a Kashmiri, and a renowned student activist, hailed the courage and tenacity of Gurmehar Kaur who has been facing online violence for her stances. In an era where totalitarianism is creeping into every facet of the society and upholding the humanist values of tolerance and justice is becoming an arduous task, one which frequently invites rape and even death threats, these two female activists are a source of inspiration for many.

The event was attended by prominent members of civil society such as RTI activist Raja Muzaffar Bhat, author of ‘The Half Widow’ Shafi Ahmad Wani, social activist Jagmohan Singh Raina, Editor in Chief of Weekly kashmir Mushtaq Bala, Mehraj Wani (KAS), Editor in Chief Voice of Hills Zubair Qureshi, among others. The event saw good participation of women, prominent among them being Mantasha binti Rashid, renowned singer Mehmeet Syed, and many young sportswomen and female academicians. (KNS)