NEW DELHI: Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur, whose campaign against the ABVP has gone viral, found herself at the centre of a major row on Monday as the ruling BJP and the opposition traded charges over the Ramjas College clashes, re-igniting the intolerance debate.
Facing death and rape threats after her social media campaign against the RSS student wing, Kaur, daughter of an Army officer killed in the Kargil war, was compared to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim by a BJP MP while Union Minister Kiren Rijiju wondered who was "polluting" her mind.
But Kaur got the endorsement of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and many others for her stand against the ABVP and violence on the campus. The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) urged the police to act against those threatening her.
Kaur, a student of the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College, insisted she won't be intimidated.
"I am not afraid because I am fighting for the right thing," she said, adding she was getting numerous threats on phone and social media besides filthy comments.
"It would be very nice if I get protection. Fear is not in my blood. My father took a bullet for the country and I am also ready to do that," she added.
Kaur, 20, told the media that nobody had the right to threaten any woman with rape.
Kaur took on the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which controls the Delhi University Students Union, after ABVP activists were blamed for the attacks on students, teachers and journalists in the campus.
Students opposed to the Ramjas College violence of February 22 and the online threats against Kaur have decided to take out a march in the Delhi University on Tuesday.
The issue triggered a war of words between the BJP and the Congress.
"Criticise the government but don't abuse the motherland," Rijiju said, after Kaur also posted: "Pakistan did not kill my father. War killed him."
BJP MP Pratap Simha from Mysuru posted an image of Dawood on Twitter with the words "I didn't kill people in 1993, bombs killed them."
The MP added: "At least Dawood did not use the crutches of his father's name to justify his anti-national stand."
Both Rijiju and Simha faced widespread flak.
Rahul Gandhi tweeted: "Against the tyranny of fear we stand with our students. For every voice raised in anger, intolerance and ignorance there will be a Gurmehar Kaur."
Said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari: "An atmosphere is being created to protect those who support violence or are fascist in nature. But those who try to express something within the limits of the Constitution, they face violence."
The Congress also targeted Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for his remark in London that "there is an alliance of subversion on Indian campuses".
Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party blamed the Modi government for the threats to Kaur and accused the ABVP of unleashing violence "both in the real and the online world".
Union ministers M. Venkaiah Naidu and Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back at the opposition for its narrative of attack on freedom of expression.
"Everybody has freedom but that does not mean that you raise slogans to weaken the country? Does freedom of expression mean raising slogans like Azadi for Kashmir, Azadi for Bastar?" asked Prasad.
Naidu accused Leftists of trying to turn universities into "laboratories for separatist experiments". He called the ABVP "a nationalist organisation".
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Varanasi: "I have told Delhi Police to practice restraint so that nothing goes wrong. I am constantly in touch with the police commissioner."