The police in New Zealand have devised a safety plan for a professor of Indian origin after the academic received abusive messages and threats on social media for criticising “Hindutva extremism” in his work, The New Zealand Herald reported on Monday.
“We are aware of concerns being raised that far-right nationalist or extremist Indian groups are operating in New Zealand,” a police spokesperson told the newspaper, adding that no such organisation was currently designated as a terrorist entity in New Zealand.
In May, Mohan Dutta, professor at the Massey University, had published a paper on “Islamophobic elements” in the Hindutva ideology. The paper is entitled “Cultural Hindutva and Islamophobia”. In his work, Dutta has called for inspection of the presence of Hindutva in New Zealand, according to the newspaper.
Hindutva is a form of Hindu nationalism, which aims to establish Hindu supremacy in India, even though the nation is secular as per its constitution. The far-right ideology of Hindutva is said to have gained increased traction since the Bharatiya Janata Party, associated with the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, came to power in 2014.
Dutta told the newspaper that Hinduism was not Hindutva, which he has tried to underline in his work as well. He said the online trolling was an attempt to silence criticism and attack academic freedom in universities worldwide.
Dutta had filed a complaint about the harassment earlier this month, following which safety was provided to him.
The police believe that the trolls are overseas but have backed Dutta and discussed the matter with him in detail. The police spokesperson told the newspaper, “Police are concerned about all forms of extremism in NZ that has the potential to manifest in threatening acts of violence.”
A Massey University spokesperson had earlier told The New Zealand Herald that the professor was targetted by Hindutva activists online after he gave a virtual talk on August 24, ahead of an international conference co-sponsored by the university. The Conference was named “Dismantling Global Hindutva”.
Dutta told the newspaper that he received abusive messages on Twitter from accounts that appeared to support the Hindutva ideology and seemed to have belonged to certain organisations.
Meanwhile, The New Zealand Indian Association of Minorities has reportedly written a letter to the Human Rights Commission, condemning the “flood of hate and discrimination” against the professor.