The United Kingdom Police and Oxford University have begun investigations into the alleged cyberbullying of Indian student Rashmi Samant, following her resignation and the storm around it, reported The Times of India.
The controversy around the resignation of the former Oxford Students’ Union President-elect Rashmi Samant reached the Rajya Sabha on 15 March, when the issue was discussed by BJP MP Ashwini Vaishnaw who called it a serious case of racism.
He added that the treatment the 22-year-old faced after being asked to resign reflected colonial-era attitudes.
Joint Statement by Oxford Societies
On Monday, a joint statement by the Oxford India Society, Oxford University Hindu Society and Oxford South Asian Society said that the calls for the resignation of the former Oxford Students’ Union President-elect Rashmi Samant were due to her insensitive remarks about other minority groups and a refusal to accept responsibility for her actions. It also said that Rashmi’s comments following her resignation were feeding a ‘Hindutva narrative’.
“We recognise that a culture of institutional racism is prevalent in the University, and that racism is a reality for several members of the University, including brown students. It is with utmost caution, therefore, that we wish to clarify that this is not why Samant had to resign. And by that, we mean that neither her nationality nor her religion were 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,” the statement by three Oxford societies said.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that Samant’s now-deleted social media posts are racially insensitive towards the East-Asian and Jewish communities, and are transphobic,” the statement further read.
Samant had been at Oxford for five months when she was elected president. Right after her appointment, her old Instagram posts were found leading to people accusing her of being a racist. She resigned from her position on 16 February and came back to Udupi, Karnataka.
Oxford Staff Member Urged to Apologise to Rashmi
The statement also called for a postdoctoral history researcher of New College in Oxford University, Dr Abhijit Sarkar, to apologise to Samant for his social media comments attacking her parents.
“We further strongly disapprove of the actions of Dr Abhijit Sarkar, postdoctoral History researcher at New College. Sarkar’s social media posts about Samant’s parents and their religious beliefs had no place in a conversation about Samant’s reprehensible actions. She cannot be viewed as her parents – any criticism of her actions should refer to those actions alone, and certainly not her family background. It is imperative that Sarkar take responsibility for his words and apologise to Samant," said the joint statement.
(With inputs from Times of India and The News Minute.)
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)