Home Opinion I am not an ‘urban naxal’, Mr Mohandas Pai. I am just...

I am not an ‘urban naxal’, Mr Mohandas Pai. I am just a student

File image of Gurmehar Kaur | Commons
File image of Gurmehar Kaur | Commons

We are none of the hashtags you throw at us. We are normal people who are citizens of this country.

For one year, I have not engaged with trolls on Twitter. Especially those trolls who have a verified account.

But then T.V. Mohandas Pai, a verified account whose existence I had no idea about, popped up in my notifications. He had called me #URBANNAXAL. I have been called anti-national a million times, so much so that I have become de-sensitised to the word and often joke about it.

But the tag of ‘urban naxal’ was a new one. It came on the wrong day. My one-year-old dog had just died three hours ago, after suffering a high fever and low platelet count. I was sobbing in the Amritsar-Delhi Shatabdi train and the blue highlighted hashtag in Pai’s tweet stared back at me from my phone.


Also read: ‘Urban Naxals’ is BJP’s sinister plot promoted by its Urban Idiots: Jignesh Mevani


I was neither enraged nor amused. I just stared at the screen numbly. Mr Pai, I am not an ‘urban naxal’. I am not any of the absurd and illogical tags that frustrated fanatics keep throwing at me every six months to demonise me. And, that’s just because I speak up against the current political climate and the government.

And what was the trigger for such labelling by Mr Pai? I had tweeted to express my solidarity with the students of Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU), Raipur, as they fought day and night against their vice-chancellor who had been accused of maladministration and inaction over sexual harassment complaints.

The last two years have been marked by an intense spike in student agitations across India, a nation with a sizeable young population. But instead of paying attention to what these students demand, many choose to brand them ‘anti-nationals’, ‘urban naxals’, ‘sickulars’ and ‘tukde tukde gang’.

The voices of my fellow students across India have been a constant source of hope and support in these times that I find very dark. Yes, sure, many remind us that there were darker times in India’s past – the Emergency, the 1984 riots, corruption scandals. While I acknowledge these, in my eyes, and other 18-year-olds like me, these are dark times too. We are witnessing all kinds of injustices and regressive measures in our universities.

It would be so easy to disengage from all that is happening around us. We are constantly told that as students, our only job is to study and not be political. How do we disengage and detach ourselves from news of rapes, mob lynchings, and murders? How do we disengage from the fact that those in power either abet lynching with their rhetoric or garland the accused? People who support such kind of politics are calling us anti-nationals today.

These tags, however, don’t surprise me.


Also read: Urban Naxal is the new enemy & ‘Useful Idiot’ BJP needs for 2019


On a good day, I read out these tweets and messages to my friends and have a laugh. On bad days, I go on a never-ending rant about the current state of the nation. Then, there are days when I am running around trying to keep up with my attendance and marks, and I briefly skim through the tweet, dramatically roll my eyes, sigh and then block them. Sometimes, I do get hurt, but I focus on all those people who have undergone real suffering – lost their sons at the hands of cow vigilante groups or married outside their religion, or who are still searching for their missing son on the campus.

My friends say it’s important to speak up and put out a narrative that counters the trolls. Personally, I salute anyone who has the patience to do so. But for the sake of my own mental well-being and sanity, I stay away. I’m busy with campus placements and applications for a Master’s degree. Anything that isn’t focused on achieving those specific goals is an unnecessary distraction.

In the end, ‘urban naxal’ and ‘anti-national’ are just words, and at least I’m still alive.

We are none of the hashtags you throw at us. We are normal people who are citizens of this country.

Closing Mr Pai’s tweet, I decided to dwell on the loss of my dead dog instead.

The author is a writer and student activist.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I met this brave girl who was harassed for her bravery,at the Hindu Lit for Life festival at Chennai .Even the larger than life Big B didn’t spare her in trolling.Despite losing her father at the tender age of two she is so braves.She feels for her motherland.That is her crime.
    I as a mother bless her and pray God to be by her side .

  2. It is so convenient for Ms Gurmehar to bring her emotional story of her dog passing away on this and justify her tweet. What wrong did Mr. Pai say ? On what basis a generalized statement of ” The last few years in India have been the darkest we have seen in a long time”. Please don’t generalize I as We. If you feel that last few years were darkest, please put I and not generalize for 125 crore Indians. Also if you think We is right to use, then be ready for the real We which includes Mr Pai as well to challenge your arguments.

  3. I think Mr Pai is not worth a paiee.

    secondly, Do he has a doughter, if yes then how he can scold a thought of her? she, gurmeher Kaur is her daughter as well not a urban naxal (a term used by him to please Modi)

    • Why not answer the substantial issue of the logic of Ms Gurmehar tweet of using We instead of I. Don’t try to abusee others just because you don’t like them

  4. Then it seems u r deviated citizen who do not know her duties as citizen .
    And in that case u r a naxal bcos u r supporting thr cause which itself is very vicious against the very nation or state u r claiming to be citizen of ….
    Likewise when u say that ur father was not killed by pakistani soldiers u r being misled either by urself or some fancy intrend whimsical ideology which is known as urban naxal ….

  5. Every sensible citizen has concern for what writer tried to point out and that isn’t happening since 3/4yrs but being happening since multiple yrs that needs to be addressed with strong political will.Unfortunately,University/college campus has been politicised in the name of freedom of expression.Some of them became political ground to wage political war against govt’s.Infact,it’s basic concern

  6. I am surprised / shocked that this man was heading HR at Infosys, felt resentful because he did not get the top job.

    • Why not answer the substantial issue of the logic of Ms Gurmehar tweet of using We instead of I. Don’t try to bring in your personal grudge of Mr Pai for justifying your argunent. Also, it is a fact that Mr Pai was asked to take up CEO role from Mr Murthy which he refused.

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