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Former SU President-Elect who resigned over insensitive social media posts releases book detailing harassment and “injustice”

Rashmi Samant was elected as the first female Indian president of the Student Union in February 2021. However, within five days of her appointment, student outrage over insensitive social media posts led to her forced resignation. Her new book “A Hindu in Oxford” delves into how her life “turned topsy turvy by accusations of racism, anti-Semitism and transphobia” and the bullying and harassment that ensued. She previously stated that her posts were “dug up, mischievously misinterpreted and weaponized to browbeat me into resigning.” 

The controversies stemmed from Samant’s Instagram posts: she captioned her visit to Malaysia with the phrase “Ching Chang”, separated “women” and “transwomen”, and used a play on words in reference to the Holocaust Museum in Berlin: “The memorial *CASTS* a *HOLLOW* dream of the past atrocities and deeds.” Additionally, Samant also drew a comparison between Cecil Rhodes and Hitler at a Student Union debate. 

On a Twitter post announcing her new book, Samant stated that her “historic election victory rapidly transformed into a distressing nightmare of bullying, harassment, & threats,” which included death threats and police intimidation. 

In an article dwelling on cancel culture, published in the Times of India, Samant explained that the attacks she faced were spearheaded by “an academic at the University who directly targeted and insulted my Hindu identity and upbringing. She added that the “cyber lynching”  that occurred “was so intense that I was bullied into resigning. I caught the first flight back home, had a nervous break-down and ended up in hospital.”

Following the comments made by the academic, Oxford investigated the matter. Although the result remains confidential, Samant’s lawyer, Adhitya Srinivasan, tweeted: “Oxford has finally concluded its investigation into the harassment complaint filed by Ms Rashmi Samant. I am delighted that a decision has been reached, and I am pleased with the outcome of the investigation.”

Samant also said that these attacks had led to her issuing “a wholly unwarranted apology”, as she “did not do anything wrong in the first place, something which has been validated by experienced lawyers and a senior Jewish rights activist.” 

At the time, Oxford’s Jewish Society told Cherwell: “Her caption of a photo at the Berlin Holocaust Memorial exhibited severe insensitivity and ignorance, as did her ill-thought-out parallel between Cecil Rhodes and Adolf Hitler.” The Oxford International Society and the SU LGBTQ+ Campaign also called for her resignation. 

In the Times of India article, Samant also explained that cancel culture has become “a personalized witch-hunt that aims to permanently destroy the character and prospects of those who fail or choose not to conform to political correctness and unreasonable, wokish insanity.” 

She stated: “It is clear that those who purvey a trigger-happy cancel culture are power-hungry hypocrites who derive fulfilment by imposing misery on others. Their combination of sheer ignorance and over-confidence is as dangerous as it is nauseating. They also flagrantly use and abuse the public spirit of accountability to deleterious effect.”

Samant’s successor, Anvee Bhutani, also responded to Samant’s tweet, stating: “When Rashmi resigned, I ran, was elected, and served a successful term as an Indian Hindu President of Oxford University Students Union.

“Racism exists in Oxford, but Rashmi was not bullied because of her race, religion, or nationality. This novel propagates a false narrative.” In response, Samant told her to “read the book before judging it by your bias.”

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