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Was The Wire’s Arfa, Hussain Haidry part of the India Conference at Harvard 2023? No. But there were other problematic speakers: Details

The Wire's Arfa Khanum Sherwani may not have been among the speakers at the India Conference at Harvard 2023. Still, other contentious personalities, known for their anti-India rhetorics and divisive propaganda, nevertheless were part of the speakers to have attended the said event.

Earlier yesterday, outrage swept the microblogging platform Twitter after several social media users objected to the inclusion of usual suspects such as Arfa Khanum Sherwani, Hussain Haidry, and others as speakers at a Harvard event sponsored by Indian business conglomerates and the Indian government.

The social media users, outraged and livid over the lack of due diligence by the Indian government’s Incredible India, Uday Kotak, and the Godrej Group to bankroll an event having speakers infamous for their anti-India and divisive rhetorics, tagged the relevant minister and the Ministry’s Twitter handle to highlight the blunder and make amends to it.

The pictures shared by them were of a Harvard event titled ‘India Conference at Harvard’, with Arfa Khanum Sherwani, Hussain Haidry, Aman Wadud, and Raqib Naik listed as panellists to speak on ‘Being Muslim in Contemporary India’. The event was scheduled for February 15th, from 3:45 PM to 4:40 PM.

Source: Twitter

Except the pictures were from a panel discussion that took place in 2020. Moreover, the Indian government cancelled the sponsorship of the event after being abreast of the kind of speakers that were to participate in the event.

Though the contentious speakers were not a part of the Harvard Conference 2023, there were other problematic speakers who participated in the event that took place on February 11 and 12, 2023. The speakers that Harvard platformed often indulged in inflaming tensions through their social media accounts, peddled the usual tropes of breaking the unity of India and furthered the same vicious rhetorics against Hindus and other Vedic faiths that perfectly jibed with the nefarious objectives of extremist organisations such as PFI.

Here are some of the problematic speakers who participated at the India Conference at Harvard 2023

Satyendra Kumar

Satyendra Kumar, the co-founder and Director of the Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion (CSEI) and National Youth Equity Forum (NYEF). A quick look at his Twitter profile would reveal which side of the fence he sits on. 

Days before the Delhi Anti-Hindu riots broke out, which were specifically aimed to “teach Kafirs a lesson”, Kumar had tweeted that they will not let the govt implement CAA.

He had also retweeted Kanhaiya Kumar who had furthered the same trope as PFI and several other Islamists, trying to demonise Hindus.

Chandrabhan Prasad

The other panellist for the talk, Dalit author Chandrabhan Prasad was a veteran of spreading propaganda. In 2018, when a well-funded, organised riot, by the Naxals broke out after the Bhima-Koregaon event, Chandrabhan Prasad blamed the “orange brigade” for it.

The Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case pertains to an event organized at Shaniwar Wada called Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017. The following day, i.e January 1, 2018, large-scale violence broke out at Bhima Koregaon, where lakhs of Dalits had gathered to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, won by the British Army—comprising mostly soldiers from the Dalit community—against the Peshwas in 1818.

Thenmozhi Soundararajan

The next problematic panellist was Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the executive director of Equality Labs. Equality Labs is an extremely prominent anti-Brahminism Caste activism group in the United States. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had once stoked a massive controversy when he held an anti-Brahmin placard that said ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’. Incidentally, that poster was designed by Thenmozhi Soundararajan, the Executive Director of Equality Labs. Equality Labs had collaborated with the Organisation for Minorities in India (OFMI), among other organisations, for a report titled ‘Caste in the United States: A Survey Of Caste Among South Asian Americans’. The OFMI was founded by Bhajan Singh Bhinder, a known ISI operative, and his puppet Pieter Friedrich was part of the organisation too.

Equality Labs holds great influence among the ‘Justice Democrats’ wing of the Democrat Party. They were campaigning hard against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the United States while accusing India of committing genocide with the hashtag ‘Stop Hindu fascism’. Equality Labs also campaigned hard against Amit Jani, who had worked in the Joe Biden campaign, accusing him of supporting ‘Hindu Fascism’. 

Further testament to the Equality Labs’ influence among Justice Democrats is that they have worked with Congressman Ro Khanna for a seemingly benign project. Ro Khanna worked with them to introduce a resolution in celebration of the 129th birth anniversary of B.R. Ambedkar.

Yashica Dutt

Dalit author Yashica Dutt was also a panellist at the event. Apart from regularly dog-whistling against Hindus, she also extended support to violent protests against CAA and attempted to shield the Muslim perpetrators.

Even while Islamists had gone on a rampage against Hindus during the Delhi Riots, she had attempted to paint the Delhi Anti-Hindu riots as a pogrom against Muslims. 

This is not all. Another event at the Harvard conference will predictably bash Hindus and whitewash the atrocities being met out to them by Islamists and paint the Muslim community as the victims.

Harsh Mander

The panel titled, “Polarisation in India as it exists and building towards an ecosystem of tolerance as we turn 100” had Harsh Mandar as one of the speakers. 

Harsh Mander of the Centre for Equity Studies, a foreign-funded NGO, apart from being associated with George Soros, Harsh Mander was also a member of Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council which drafted the nauseatingly anti-Hindu Communal Violence Bill. He has also been very active in filing petitions in the Court and has found himself in the heart of the violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Harsh Mander is a senior member of the Ara Pacis Initiative, an organization backed by the Italian Foreign Ministry that works in tandem with the Italian Secret Service. In other words, Harsh Mander is a member of an organization that is an arm of the State of Italy’s Foreign Policy. API is a weapon in the arsenal of the Italian State and Harsh Mander is a member of it. Through Radio Rozana, we learned that the API also collaborates with propaganda outlets funded by Western Powers, the purpose of which is to create a narrative in order to benefit the foreign policy objectives of the said power.

In India, Harsh Mander and his NGO the Karwan-e-Mohabbat have been very active in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Harsh Mander spoke on the ‘importance of solidarity’ and “how we can practice civil disobedience in today’s India”. Karwan-e-Mohabbat urged people to join the protests at Shaheen Bagh. He has landed himself in trouble after a video where he can be seen inciting Muslim mobs against the Indian State and judiciary went viral on social media. Details about his dangerous connections can be read here.

Dr Aqsa Shaikh

One of the panellists to speak at a discussion during the Harvard Conference 2023 was one of Dr Aqsa Shaikh. A cursory glance at her Twitter profile (@doctorsaheba) reveals her political ideology and religious bigotry, Her pinned tweet is about the imaginary construct ‘Islamophobia’, wherein she dehumanises Hindu doctors and compares them to Nazi doctors.

Source: Twitter

In her Twitter thread, she targets Hindu doctors who raised their voices against Tablighi Jamaat members, responsible for powering the coronavirus spread outbreak in India in 2020. 

She also cited a report by Oxfam, a notorious organisation known for whipping up resentment among Indian Muslims, to claim that Muslims are discriminated against on the grounds of religion in hospitals or by healthcare professionals. 

Dr Shaikh also seems to have a strange fascination for Hitler, for she has a knack for comparing those she detests with the Fuhrer. In a tweet attacking PM Modi, Dr Shaikh said that just like millions of Germans who supported Nazis were as responsible as Hitler and Co., so are crores of Indians who are supporting PM Modi.

Source: Twitter

Ashish Dikshit

Another panellist with questionable antecedents who attended the India Conference at Harvard 2023 was Ashish Dikshit, the founding editor of BBC Marathi, the Marathi arm of the propaganda news outlet British Broadcasting Corporation.

Source: Twitter

Richa Chadha

Actor Richa Chadha was also a part of one of the events organised during the India Conference at Harvard 2023. The actor was a part of a raging social media storm recently for her disparaging tweet mocking the Indian Army with a ‘Galwan Jibe’ after they said they can take back PoK from Pakistan. 

Source: Twitter

However, the actress deleted her tweet after she was lambasted by netizens for her insensitive taunt. 

As calls for a boycott grew on social media, with netizens fuming over her insensitive tweet against the Army, the actor issued a half-hearted apology. Richa Chadha took to Twitter to tender her ‘apology’, she tagged her lawyer Saveena Bedi Sachar and attached an apology message. “If the 3 words which are being dragged into controversy have offended or hurt anyone, I apologise and also say that it would sadden me if even unintentionally my words have triggered this feeling in my brothers in the Fauj of which my own Nanaji has been an illustrious part.”

Ali Fazal

Ali Fazal, who has not shied away from extending his support to anti-CAA rabble-rousers, was also a part of an event alongside his wife Richa Chadha. In the wake of the violence, stone pelting, vandalism and incidents of arson reported from many parts of the country following the enactment of the CAA in December 2019, Fazal posted a tweet on the anti-CAA riots saying that he was enjoying it all.

Source: Twitter

Many prominent personalities had come in support of the anti-CAA protests, including the opposition political parties, thereby encouraging the demonstrators to continue their protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The protests continued for several months in Shaheen Bagh in Delhi and eventually culminated in the horrifying Northeast Delhi riots that shook the national capital and led to the death of 53 people.

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Amit Kelkar
Amit Kelkar
a Pune based IT professional with keen interest in politics

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