Rashmi Samant, the first Indian woman known to have been elected as the President of the Oxford Student Union (SU) allegedly resigned from the post in a few days due to the emerging controversy surrounding some of her past remarks which were termed as insensitive. The United Kingdom Police and Oxford University have begun investigations into the alleged cyberbullying of Indian student Rashmi Samant following her resignation. This has sparked a storm and many questions have been raised regarding cyberbullying.
The Oxford India Society, Oxford South Asia Society and the Oxford University Hindu society have issued a statement stating that Samant’s insensitive remarks about other minority groups have led to her resignation. The resignation did not have anything to do with the fact that she is an Indian, Hindu or woman, which highlighted the statement. However, other students have been defending her, with one even commenting that this episode is rather smacks of ” liberals virtue signalling”. Samant has been pursuing one-year masters remotely from India despite having paid £24,000 in fees and commented that she does not feel safe going back to Oxford.
It is alleged that Abhijit Sarkar had posted a photograph of Samant’s family on Instagram. Not only that, he had made direct references to the student’s religion as well as labelling her home state of Karnataka as a stronghold of Islamophobic forces. A University spokesperson espoused that Oxford has been committed to creating an environment where people of all backgrounds, including Hindu students and staff, feel welcome.
The Oxford Hindu Society criticized the science student Samant for failing to take responsibility for her actions and stated that action be taken against the university scholar for commenting on her parent’s beliefs and asked him to apologise to Ms Samant. The Society demanded that Abhijit Sarkar must resign from his position as a member of this University’s faculty.
She added that no concrete actions have been taken by the University. She feels that the statement made by the faculty member has given impetus to other students, who have been engaging in making defamatory statements. Samant is the first child in her family to go to university. The case had also reached the doors of Rajya Sabha on 15 March when BJP MP Ashwini Vaishnaw discussed this issue and termed it as a serious case of racism and felt that a colonial attitude was endorsed.