The student organizations ‘Campaign for Racial Awareness & Equality’ (CRAE) and ‘Hindu Society’ from the Oxford University in the UK have refuted the allegations of racism and intolerance towards Hindu students concerning the resignation of Rashmi Samant, who was forced to step down from her position of president of Oxford University Students Union.
Ever since the Union Minister for External Affairs S Jaishankar addressed the Indian Parliament about racism in the UK, social media has been abuzz with claims that Samant was asked to step down from her post because she was a Hindu.
An Instagram video claiming she was asked to step down as president because “her parents worship Lord Ram” has been widely circulated and viewed close to 4 Million times. The makers say that the source of information for the video is Samant herself. However, they failed to mention the real reason why Samant was asked to quit.
As speculations hit the peak, CRAE and Hindu Society have clarified that Samant’s resignation had nothing to do with her religious beliefs but with her problematic posts/ views on east-asians, trans people and the holocaust.
After Samant was elected president of OUSU, her social media posts from recent past had resurfaced. She captioned a picture from Malaysia as ‘Ching Chang’, made an insensitive pun about the holocaust and was accused of transphobia when she separated ‘women’ and ‘transwomen’ in an Instagram post.
Although Samant apologized in an open letter, CRAE and other societies at Oxford deemed the apology inadequate and demanded her resignation. “The president-elect has demonstrated unwillingness to take accountability for her actions, which we believe to be a crucial aspect of self-education and making amends,” read the statement.
Samant responded to this in an interview to The Print by saying that had she looked a ‘certain way’, she would have been given benefit of doubt. But Avnee Bhutani, the incoming chairperson of CRAE pointed out that Pierce Jones one of the frontrunners in the race for presidency was also asked to quit due to allegations of racism.
Samant then brought up the issue of another student, Abhijit Sarkar, who criticized her parents’ religious views and demanded action against him.
After the news cycle in India began reporting on racism and intolerance with only Samant’s side of the story, Hindu Society at Oxford was forced to respond earlier this month by condemning both Samant and Sarkar. They also slammed the Indian media for ‘distorting’ the focus from Samant’s lack of accountability towards allegations of hinduphobia.
After the comments from India’s Minister for External Affairs, CREA’s Avnee Bhutani once again clarified the reasons behind the demand for Samant’s resignation and said, “Samant’s nationality or religion were never brought into the conversation, apart from when she brought them in herself, and this wasn’t a plot to try and conspire to remove her from office.”
“The past two OUSU presidents have been women of colour and the current sabbatical team is also all women of colour, including other Indian and Hindu women,” she added.