Rashmi Samant returns amid ongoing anti-hate crime campaign

Rashmi Samant returns amid ongoing anti-hate crime campaign

Rashmi Samant, the student at the centre of an anti-hate crime campaign led by British Indian organisations, returned to the UK from India to resume her studies at the University of Oxford, even as the wider campaign rages on.

Indian National Students Association (INSA UK) welcomes Ms Rashmi Samant back to the UK and wishes her success in her study at Oxford University,” the students’ association said in a statement of solidarity.

“As an association which cares for the wellbeing of Indian students in UK, we have concerns about her well-being while studying at the Oxford University. She has recently suffered bullying and attacks on her family, due her religious beliefs by a member of staff at the Oxford University. We support her in matters concerning her health and wellbeing, both mental and physical,” INSA UK said.

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Anti-hate drive

The latest development comes weeks after as many as 119 British Hindu organisations issued a joint letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier in April to urge action against an Oxford University faculty member for his alleged “Hindu hatred and bigoted views”.

This was followed up with a another letter, signed by INSA UK, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha UK, Hindu Council UK, Hindu Forum of Britain Hindu, Swayamsevak Sangh (UK), National Council of Hindu Temples (NCHTUK), National Hindu Students' Forum (UK), and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (UK), addressed to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to urgently investigate the serious concerns of religious hate speech and take action over any breach of visa guidelines as a result.

“Dr Abhijit Sarkar, a faculty member, instigated hate-filled trolls on social media against her [Samant] which led her to go into hiding and finally leave the country. Dr Sarkar continued stalking Rashmi on social media, attacking her and her family for their Hindu faith and beliefs which led her to severe depression and hospitalisation,” their campaign notes.

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Safety concerns

Samant expressed her gratitude at the “solidarity and good wishes”, adding that her plans back in the UK are now focussed on completing her degree successfully, “irrespective of the university’s response”.

“They are yet to come to a conclusion or make a comment on the issue and it has been an ongoing process for quite a while now,” said the student, who hit the headlines back in February as the first Indian woman to be elected President of the Oxford Student Union (SU) before being forced to resign amid controversy over some of her past social media posts.

The University of Oxford has said that its investigation into the matter remains ongoing.

“We never comment on individual cases because of the importance of not prejudicing an investigation as well as protecting the privacy of those involved, but the university thoroughly investigates all formal complaints that our harassment or equality policies have been breached,” it said.

INSA UK said that it is in communication with the authorities at Oxford University to ensure “safety and justice” for all Indian students.

The group added: “A formal request has been made to take actions against the hate crime and we await a decision in that matter. At INSA UK, one of our prime objectives is to ensure that no Indian student is subject to any kind of harassment or bullying irrespective of their background.

“If any Indian student is going through similar harassment or is being treated unfairly, please bring it to our notice.”

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