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‘They cannot digest India’s success under PM Modi’: Indian student Satyam Surana faces hate and smear campaign at LSE student union elections

"From 14-15th of March, we noticed that my posters were being ripped off, torn. We complained to the authorities. After we replaced our posters, on 16th, we saw that some posters were defaced. There were crosses on my face, it was written 'anyone but Satyam'. I was cancelled out," Satyam told ANI.

Satyam Surana, an Indian student, who came to the limelight when he picked up the tricolour from the road, defying the attack at the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom by extremist elements last year, is now alleging hate and smear campaigns against him during the student union elections at the London School of Economics this year.

Satyam has alleged that, just 12 hours before the voting, a very ‘well-planned’ campaign was launched against him, somehow linking him with the Bharatiya Janata Party and calling him a ‘fascist’ to boycott him and his campaign.

The Pune born student has also practiced at the Bombay High Court for some months and is pursuing an LLM at the London School of Economics with his course ending later this year.

Elaborating on the whole set of incidents, he said that the LSE elections were declared in February and early March and he filed the nomination for the post of general secretary.

“From 14-15th of March, we noticed that my posters were being ripped off, torn. We complained to the authorities. After we replaced our posters, on 16th, we saw that some posters were defaced. There were crosses on my face, it was written ‘anyone but Satyam’. I was cancelled out,” Satyam told ANI.

“On 17th afternoon, there were messages in all groups of LSE. Indian groups, law school groups. The messages claimed, ‘This Satyam Surana is a BJP supporter, he is a fascist person, an Islamophobe, transphobe’. The messages were so seditious and contentious of the Indian government and the current establishment,” he added.

Satyam alleged that the radical elements also screenshotted his posts on social media handle X, where he had merely praised the BJP government, but his posts were used with a malicious agenda to call him a “fascist.”

He also said that his manifesto had no political points, but merely contained the genuine issues on campus. Even though, he initially got overwhelming support, this hate campaign derailed his chances.

“With my entire team, I went through the entire campus. We were reaching out across departments and explaining our policies. I had a very well written and well-drafted manifesto, which was not at all political. It said how things need improvement at LSE, how there is need of grievance redressal portal, having subsidised food on campus. We were getting support and people were saying that they would vote for me,” Satyam said.

“But, out of the three people, it was only me who was targeted randomly. When these messages started coming, my entire team was shocked, we were in a dilemma, the entire moral conscience of the team was shattered,” he added.

Recalling the episode from the Indian High Commission last year, Satyam said, “Somewhere around early October, I was in the news because I picked up the national flag outside the Indian High Commission among the Khalistani protestors. I was blessed to receive media coverage. I was interviewed by national media channels.”

He further said that he was targeted for calling Khalistanis as ‘terrorists’ in one of his posts.

“See, this is my country. I will always be an advocate for my country. How is Indian politics relevant to the student union elections in the UK. My views, endorsements to my government is entirely my opinion,” Satyam added.

The Indian student said that his photograph with Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis — which was clicked when he was invited by Fadnavis during his India visit — was used by the extremist elements to claim that he is linked to the BJP.

He further pointed out that since the whole smear campaign against him was targeting the ‘right-wing’, Satyam believes that the campaign was planned by ‘left-wing’ groups.

“I was called a Neo-Nazi supporter, Right Wing, out of campus. See, when the message heading was circulated as the right wing out of campus, it is very clear that the campaign was dictated and planned by the left wing,” he said.

On being asked if the hate campaign against him was started by an Indian person or a foreigner, Satyam said that the first message he received was from an Indian and most of those involved in this campaign were Indians only.

He added that this was not a random or personal campaign, but a “well-planned hate and toolkit campaign” involving people who are politically motivated against the incumbent BJP government in India.

Satyam even claims that those who targeted him are part of that group which can’t digest the success of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and hence spread such false and malicious propaganda.

“The people of international community are not aware of what is going on in India. Every international person is looking up to India and looking up to the current Prime Minister as stalwart legendary politician. Our Prime Minister has the highest approval rating in the entire world, we have shown what we can do during Covid, we are emerging as the third largest economy. But, sadly these groups who can’t digest this fact are spreading not misinformation, but disinformation,” Satyam said.

However, Satyam was not able to go past the finish line despite gathering support in the initial phase of the campaign. He believes that the way his campaign was targeted and hampered it hurt his goodwill.

He further said that this campaign did have a huge impact on him and his life at the campus, even after the elections were over. But, he also acknowledged that he did get support from many people who stood by him in this hour.

Satyam stated that the point in the episode that hurts him the most is the fact that the majority of people who carried out the hate campaign against him were actually Indians only.

“The only thing that hurts is that these were our fellow Indian students who circulated these messages and questioned the sovereignty of India…how shameless can people be to forward these messages. I can’t believe Indian students forwarding the messages and hampering the sovereignty and integrity of our country,” he added.

(This news report is published from a syndicated feed. Except for the headline, the content has not been written or edited by OpIndia staff)

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