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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Rashmi Samant’s resignation had nothing to do with her being Indian or Hindu: Oxford University societies

The Oxford India Society, Oxford Hindu Society and Oxford South Asian Society, in a joint statement, said sections of the Indian media are trying to pretend that this issue is one of racism against Hindus or Indians.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
March 22, 2021 4:02:38 pm
Rashmi SamantRashmi Samant was the first Indian woman to be elected President of the Oxford Student Union (Photo: Twitter/@digvijaysinghd9)

The Oxford India Society, Oxford Hindu Society and Oxford South Asian Society, on Monday, issued a statement saying former president of the Oxford Student Union (SU) Rashmi Samant’s resignation had nothing to do with the fact that she is an Indian or a Hindu.

“We unequivocally condemn all forms of discrimination based on, but not limited to, race, religion, national origin, caste, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. We recognize that a culture of institutional racism is prevalent in the University, and that racism is a lived 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 Ms Samant had to resign, and by that, we mean that neither her nationality nor her religion are what prompted the calls for her resignation,” the statement read.

Rashmi Samant, who created history by becoming the first Indian woman to be elected President of the Oxford Student Union (SU), had resigned from the post in a few days amid controversy surrounding some of her past remarks and references. Some of Samant’s old social media posts had emerged, which were branded as “racist” and “insensitive.”

These included a holocaust reference on a post during a visit to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial in Germany in 2017 and an Instagram caption on a picture of herself in Malaysia that read “Ching Chang”, which upset Chinese students.

The bodies, in their statement, further said, “Recent coverage of these events in Indian media has incorrectly portrayed that Ms Samant’s resignation was prompted by an irresponsible social media post from a staff member (not a professor) and by racist comments. This is far from the truth, not least because the said social media post came only after Ms Rashmi’s resignation.”

Calling out the former president, the societies said Samant’s failure to take responsibility for her actions, and her attempts at justifying her offensive remarks are reprehensible. They added that such media coverage would divert the focus away from Samant’s evasion of accountability and the harm that her actions have caused.

Asking the media to restrain themselves from reporting about the matter until the truth comes to light, the societies wrote, “We are deeply concerned that sections of the Indian media are trying to pretend that this issue is one of racism against Hindus or Indians. As societies representing the Hindu, Indian and South Asian populations on campus, we are displeased by this false narrative, and urge the media to stop pedalling disinformation in the garb of news.”

They also urged Samant to refrain from further commenting on the matter.

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