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Gurmehar Kaur: A silent voice that speaks volumes

Gurmehar Kaur, the daughter of a dead soldier has now become an Internet Sensation through her silent voice

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Less than two weeks after posting a silent video in which she called for peace between arch rivals India and Pakistan, Indian teenager Gurmehar Kaur is struggling with the fact that she’s now an internet sensation.

In the online video that runs over four minutes, Kaur conveys her message without uttering a word and through a series of 30 placards. Her father, Capt. Mandeep Singh, was killed during a war between the two countries 17 years ago.

The video has received more than a million views since it appeared on Facebook on April 29.

“I cannot believe how popular the video has become,” the 19-year-old university student, who is based in Jalandhar, Punjab, told BenarNews.

But fame was not the motive behind making the video, she added.

“All I intended to do was to urge people of my generation to open up to the idea of living in peace and embracing each other,” Kaur said.

In the video, Kaur says she was two years old when her father was killed in the Kargil War in India-administered Kashmir.

The nearly three-month war, which began on May 3, 1999, after local shepherds reported Pakistani intrusion in the high-altitude Kargil district, claimed almost 1,000 Indian and Pakistani lives, according to official figures from both sides.

Watch VideoProfile for peace Voice of Ram

Blame war, not Pakistan

“I have very few memories of him [my father]. I have more memories of how it feels to not have a father,” reads one of the English placards in Kaur’s video.

“I also remember how much I used to hate Pakistan and Pakistanis because they killed my dad. I used to hate Muslims too because I thought all Muslims are Pakistanis,” she goes on to say silently.

“When I was six years old, I tried to stab a lady in a burkha, because for some strange reason I thought she was responsible for my father’s death.”

But instead of letting that anger and hurt harden into bitterness, Kaur overcame that and turned those feelings into something more positive and constructive, she told Benar.

Gurmehar Kaur Image Source: typicalindia.com
Gurmehar Kaur Image Source: typicalindia.com

Since the partitioning of the Indian sub-continent in 1947, ties between India and Pakistan have remained strained. The two countries, which have fought three wars, routinely accuse each other of ceasefire violations, mostly in the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir, claimed in its entirety by both sides.

“Through the video, all I am trying to say is that I was able to look beyond my personal tragedy and not deposit the blame on Pakistan or anybody else for that matter. There are more people like me, who have lost loved ones to war, and I want them to try to do the same,” she said in a phone interview.

Related Article: India and Pakistan : Behind the thinly veiled conflict

‘Media refused to carry it’

The video was a collaborative effort between Kaur and Ram Subramanian, a Mumbai-based advertising professional who has been trying to bridge the gap between Indian and Pakistani people through various campaigns.

“I had known Gurmehar’s story for a while. It is very inspiring and I thought it will be a good idea to tell her story to the world. It is the truth, and the media refused to carry it until this video went viral,” Subramanian told BenarNews.

Subramanian launched his campaign under #ProfileForPeace on Facebook last year after Maharashtra-based right-wing political party Shiv Sena, an ally of India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blocked a concert by famed Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali in Mumbai.

Shiv Sena’s Akshay Badrapurkar had said then: “We are completely against any form of cultural ties with Pakistan. The country is against us and kills our soldiers, so there’s no point why we should let their singer perform here.

Kaur slammed this thought process.

“We cannot dream of becoming a first world country with third world leadership,” she said, while giving examples of France and Germany, which made peace after two world wars, and the United States and Japan, which have also put their past behind.

Criticism

Although the video has been largely received positively, it has faced some criticism.

“This [Kaur’s] is only a very ideal view,” Prasun Kashyap, a research fellow in the New Delhi-based South Asian University, told BenarNews. “While it is good to promote people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan, you also have to understand the politics of the two nations as well as their policies.”

The video has also received its share of harsh and abusive criticism. But Kaur said she has chosen to ignore the hateful comments.

“These are people who are just using the anonymity of the internet to say whatever they want. They’re criticizing everything, from my hair to what I am wearing. I’m not paying heed to them,” she said.

Subramanian, whose Facebook page hosts the video, said: “[The] response has been mostly positive. We are in a time and space where more people want peace and only a fraction of people practice violence.”

“This video is only a first step forward. It is meant to sow the seed of the idea of peace in the minds of people. We still need to water and nourish the idea from here on,” Kaur said. (Benar news)

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Sympathy with Gurmehar…and Respect to Captain Mandeep singh…and Captain Saurabh Kalia…… Ppl shd nt mock her(Gurmehar) in wrong manner she just need to understand that each Indian wants peace…but the thing is.. India never starts war, only Juxtaposes…This letter cd be the best reply to her may it help her….Words says it all…they were killed in peace time.
    …War didnt kill him (Captain Aurabh Kalia)…. but……….Pak did 🙁 🙁

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India’s Reply to Pakistan: Indian Army Launches Massive Firing along LOC after Soldier’s Beheading

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FILE - Indian army soldiers keep guard on top of a shop along a highway on the outskirts of Srinagar, Sept. 29, 2016. VOA

Srinagar, November 23, 2016: The Indian army on Wednesday launched massive fire assaults on Pakistan. A day after an Indian soldier was beheaded and two more were killed, and Indian army vowed “heavy retribution”.

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According to NDTV report, “The entire Line of Control is now a hot zone with firing at Poonch, Rajouri, Kel and Machil,” said the army.

On Tuesday, an Indian soldier was beheaded and two more were killed by the Pakistani commandos who crossed over at Machil.

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Three weeks ago, another soldier was mutilated and that was not far away from the spot. The Indian army said in a statement, “Retribution will be heavy for this cowardly act.”

Machine guns and 120 mm heavy mortars are being used to attack the Pakistani army posts.

The army said on Wednesday that the attack is a direct message to them that mutilation cannot be accepted and the response from India will be quick and massive.

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According to NDTV report, “The soldiers were ambushed while they were on a patrol in the Machil sector in north Kashmir by the Border Action Team of the Pakistan army. Indian posts are closer to Pakistan in this sector and the rugged terrain and thicker forests give intruders an advantage.”

Pakistan denied any such incident and said the reports are false and baseless.

by NewsGram team

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Pakistan military Claim to have captured one Indian soldier, killed 8 when Indian army opened fire across LoC

The dead bodies of the Indian soldiers are still to be recovered by the Indian forces as they lay unattended at the LoC

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Representational image

Islamabad, September 29, 2016: Pakistan military claimed that it has killed eight Indian soldiers and captured one while retaliating to India’s firing at the first line of defence at the Line of Control (LoC) at Tatta Pani, a media report said today.

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Citing security sources, Dawn newspaper said that the capture and killings occurred when the Indian army opened fire across the border, killing two Pakistani soldiers.

“The dead bodies of the Indian soldiers are still to be recovered by the Indian forces as they lay unattended at the LoC. Security sources say the Indian army has yet to recover the bodies for fear of coming under fire from Pakistan,” the paper claimed.

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The paper identified the captured soldier as 22-year-old Chandu Babulal Chohan son of Bashan Chohan from Maharashtra. It said he has been shifted to an undisclosed location. However, there was no official word on the report.

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A Pakistan army statement said “an exchange of fire between Pakistani and Indian LoC troops began at 2:30am and continued till 8:00am in the Bhimber, Hotspring, Kel and Lipa sectors” and added that “Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing on the LoC.” (IANS)

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Meet Ravi Dharnidhirka: The Soldier whose Raw Courage saved 157 Lives in the 26/11 Mumbai Attack

Ravi Dharnidhirka and some of the South African ex-commandos, used their presence of mind and realised that they need to do something to save the lives of the people

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Taj fire being put out after the people were rescued. Image Source : google.com
  • On 26th November 2008, Mumbai faced the worst day in its history- the terrorist attack on Hotel Taj Mahal
  • On that day, the bravery and experience of Ravi Dharnidhirka, Captain of the US Marine Corp, saved the lives of as many as 157 people
  • He was ably aided by some South African ex-Commandos and the staff of Taj

November 26, 2008, saw one of saddest days in the history of Independent India. The Hotel Taj Mahal at Mumbai was under the attack of terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Taiba. During such a time, Captain of the US Marine Corps, Ravi Dharnidhirka had gone to have lunch at Taj with a few of his uncles and colleagues. He had sensed that something was wrong the moment he had set foot inside the hotel. The metal detectors were not working properly, he had figured. A lot of phone calls were coming to all of them, informing them about the shootings at Colaba. In the meantime, they realised that they were under attack as well.

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Captain Ravi Dharnidhirka. Image Source : betterindia.com
Captain Ravi Dharnidhirka. Image Source : betterindia.com

Ravi Dharnidhirka and some of the South African ex-commandos, who had had an experience of serving in the army used their presence of mind and realised that they need to do something to save the lives of the people. They searched the area and found a strong wooden door. They took the terrorised people through the kitchen to that room. Locked the doors and protected it with tables, chairs and whatever they could find. From the kitchen, they took the sharp cutter and armed the people as well as they could. One of them explained the situation to the people and requested them to keep calm. The Captain and his comrades then informed the Taj officials about that in case they needed to evacuate or something, reported Better India, mentioned the betterIndia report.

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When the terrorists set of the RDX in one of the halls, this group of the Captain and ex-commandos realised that it was time to carry out their evacuation plan because otherwise, the fire would engulf the staircases making it impossible to save the lives of the people waiting impatiently behind the wooden door. They removed the barricades in front of the door and slowly and steadily led them through the fire exits, out of the building. It was a lot of risks considering that every floor had a transparent fire exit through which the entire floor could be seen. They had made sure that all the phones were switched off and shoes were taken off so that they could make a noiseless exit.

As many as 157 lives were saved by the quick thinking and experience of Captain Ravi Dharnidhirka and the South African ex-commandos and the staff of Taj who had ably aided them.

-prepared by Atreyee Sengupta, an intern at NewsGram.

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