New Delhi: Union minister Kiren Rijiju today said he was not aware of rape threats to Delhi University student Gurmehar Kaur when he tweeted a comment criticising her post. Mr Rijiju also said he believed that the 20-year-old is being used as a pawn by "leftists who support Afzal Guru (the parliament attack convict hanged in 2013)".
On Tuesday, Mr Rijiju drew sharp reactions when he tweeted, "Who's polluting this young girl's mind? A strong Arm Force prevents a war. India never attacked anyone but a weak India was always invaded."
He was reacting to an old video post by Gurmehar Kaur appealing for peace between India and Pakistan, in which she held up a placard reading: "Pakistan didn't kill my father, war did." Her father, a soldier, was killed in 1999.
The post resurfaced after Gurmehar Kaur began an online campaign against the ABVP, a BJP-linked students' body accused of a central role in violence at Ramjas College last week over an invite to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid. On Sunday, the student broke down as she told NDTV about rape and murder threats since her Facebook post on the campaign.
The minister, however, said he had no idea because he was away campaigning for the Manipur assembly election. "I didn't know what the Gurmehar controversy was about. A journalist showed me her tweet. I responded to what Gurmehar said about her father."
Yesterday, Mr Rijiju even re-tweeted a post by champion wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, who appeared to mock Gurmehar Kaur's comment on Pakistan.
When pressed to explain who he felt was "polluting" Gurmehar Kaur's mind, Mr Rijiju said, "Gurmehar is young, she hasn't seen the world yet. She has the right to frame her opinions. But people are using her as a pawn. Leftists are using her points. In the interest of this nation, for the security of this nation, we have to be absolutely clear that these people should not pollute young minds of India."
Yesterday, Gurmehar Kaur, a student of Lady Shri Ram College, withdrew from a protest march against campus violence saying, "This is all I can take".