That is one word that kept going through my mind as I registered Asma Jahangir’s demise, after the initial jolt. Then as the old wounds reopened, with each death of known, acquainted and heard of people, I scrolled through pages and pages of tributes pouring in on social media, listened to friends pouring out their grief and the shared silence of old colleagues of the UN Survey of Children Affected in Armed Conflict, residing in Kashmir.
As is habit, I looked for threads, patterns and was pleasantly surprised to see that be it Masih Alnejad, of My Stealthy Freedom in Iran, or Indian historians, intellectuals, activists, journalists, etc or the BBC, CNN, the UN Chief, Opposition parties, Left parties, etc, everyone expressed what I had instinctively felt. South Asia lost a champion and we are poorer for it. As someone said on Twitter, the flags all over South Asia should be lowered at half-mast today. I agree.
What kind of a woman defends a man’s right to freedom of speech when he had called her a “chauvinist lady”; and then sticks to her principles despite having lawyers protest and call for her immediate suspension for representing such a man?