Days after the first female Indian elect of Oxford University Student’s Union, Rashmi Samant, was abused and vilified for being a Hindu, the Oxford India Society tried to downplay her ordeal on Monday.
In a collected statement released by Oxford Hindu Society, Oxford South Asian and the Oxford India Society, they insinuated that Rashmi Samant’s resignation was not motivated by racism or Hinduphobia. “We recognize that a culture of institutional racism is prevalent in the University and that racism is a lived reality for several members of the University, including brown students,” they claimed.
The statement further added, “It is with the utmost caution, therefore, that we wish to clarify that this is not why Ms Samant had to resign, and by that, we mean that neither her nationality nor her religion is what prompted the calls for her resignation. Her narrative of this being a racist attack against her undermines real experiences of racism of Students at the University.”
Joint Statement by the Oxford India Society, Oxford Hindu Society & Oxford South Asian Society to Address the Recent Coverage of the Ex-SU President-Elect— Oxford India Society (@oxfordind) March 21, 2021
Link: https://t.co/NHRZpjedUA pic.twitter.com/g4aCerh6n4
The Oxford India Society alleged that Rashmi Samant’s ‘deleted’ social media posts reeked of ‘racial insensitivity and ‘transphobia’. While justifying the hate and abuse meted to her, it said, “Although the student body voted for Ms Samant because of the pledges on her manifesto, ultimately, her insensitive remarks about other minority groups and refusal to accept responsibility for her actions are what prompted calls for her resignation.”
Oxford India Society bats for groups that spearheaded vitriolic campaign
The statement alleged that Samant’s resignation had nothing to do with her being an ‘Indian’ or a ‘Hindu.’ Instead of empathising with the victim of cyberbullying, the Oxford India Society sided with the Oxford University Student Union Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality, and LGBTQ+ Campaigns. The two groups had facilitated the vitriolic campaign against her. “Ms Samant’s failure to take responsibility for her actions and her attempts at justifying her offensive remarks are reprehensible,” it said.
Oxford India Society backs Hinduphobic Professor
The Oxford India Society was also seen batting for the Hinduphobic rhetoric, peddled by Oxford Professor Abhijit Sarkar. While trivialising his vitriolic post directed at Samant’s parents and her Hindu culture, it referred to the social media post as ‘irresponsible.’ It further said, “We are concerned that this diverts the focus away from Ms Samant’s evasion of accountability, and the harm that her actions have caused.”
Despite whitewashing the ill-treatment meted out to Rashmi Samant, the Oxford India Society attempted to come across as ‘neutral’. In a conciliatory tone, it urged Abhijit Sarkar to “take responsibility for his words and apologise to Ms Samant.” While carefully avoiding his anti-Hindu rhetorics, the statement focused only on his statement pertaining to her parents. “Ms Samant’s parents and their religious beliefs had no place in a conversation about Ms Samant’s reprehensible actions,” it added.
Rashmi Samant feeding into India’s Hindutva narrative, alleges Oxford India society
The statement also claimed that the demand for Samant’s resignation was propelled by ‘democratic means’ and not ‘cancel culture.’ It alleged, “We are acutely aware that Ms Samant’s post-resignation comments and interviews are feeding into the dangerous Hindutva narrative in India that is fundamentally exclusionary and discriminatory.” The Oxford India Society concluded, “We urge Ms Samant to refrain from further commenting on this situation, and instead, educate herself on the harm she has caused, as she promised she would in her initial letter to the Oxford student community.”
The Background of the Case
Rashmi Samant was hounded by leftists and anti-Hindu propagandists after becoming the first female Indian elect of Oxford University Student’s Union on February 11. She was forced to resign within days after being abused, bullied and targeted for being a Hindu and over her views against British colonisation.
In a coordinated attack, her old social media posts were dredged up, accusing her of being racist, anti-semitic, Islamophobic, transphobic. Besides this, Rashmi was also targeted for being a Hindu. One of the faculty members in Oxford – Dr Abhijit Sarkar had even dragged Rashmi’s parents into the controversy, attacking them for having a Lord Shri Ram display picture on their social media accounts while claiming that Rashmi’s student council elections were funded by Prime Minister Modi.
He had even accused Rashmi of being Islamophobic by alleging that she came from coastal Karnataka, which the faculty member termed as “a bastion of Islamophobic far-right forces”. Following the controversy, netizens from across the world had demanded the dismissal of Hinduphobic faculty AbhijitSarkar and had trended hashtag #DismissAbhijitSarkar on Twitter.