NEW DELHI: Gurmehar Kaur, a Delhi University student has been selected as one of its 10 Next Generation leaders for 2017 by Time Magazine, hailing her as a “free speech warrior”.
Gurmehar, the only Indian in the list who stands second on the magazine’s list of young men and women “making a difference in the world”, is the daughter of an Indian Army captain who was martyred while fighting terrorists in the troubled region of Jammu and Kashmir.
The 20-year-old from Jalandhar came under the limelight when she along with fellow students of Delhi’s Ramjas College raised her voice to protest campus violence involving the right-wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in Feburary this year.
She posted a photo of herself on social media holding a placard reading, “I am a student from Delhi University. I am not afraid of ABVP. I am not alone.”
As soon as the image went viral, another picture from an earlier online campaign to promote peace between India and Pakistan surfaced on social media.
Following which Gurmehar was trolled and received rape and death threats from online trolls to the extent that forced her to leave Delhi for a while. She also became center of a national debate on free speech and dissent in an increasingly nationalistic India.
Time writes, “But still she refuses to be silenced, and has a memoir ‘Small Acts of Freedom’ that is due to be published next year.”