The UK police and Oxford University have commenced investigations into complaints about bullying of Indian student Rashmi Samant, who was forced to resign from her position of President-elect of the Oxford University Student Union, amidst controversy over some of her past social media posts.
Samant’s beliefs came under scrutiny when her old social media posts were found to be racist, homophobic and insensitive. While Samant acknowledged that she had alienated people within the Oxford student community through these posts and stepped down, she later claimed that her resignation was forced by racism and cyberbullying.
Her case was raised in the Indian Parliament where BJP member Ashwini Vaishnav said that the treatment meted out to the 22-year old reflected colonial-era attitudes.
Some British Hindu groups have also raised concerns around comments made online by a university staffer from the history faculty with the local Thames Valley Police, urging an investigation into a possible hate crime.
The University of Oxford on Tuesday said a probe is underway and that it “investigates thoroughly" every complaint related to harassment or equality, following allegations of cyber bullying surrounding Rashmi Samant.
Three Oxford-based societies had issued statements denying that Samant did not have to resign either because of her nationality or religion, labelling this as a ‘misleading narrative’.
"The university is fully committed to creating an environment where people of all backgrounds, including our Hindu students and staff, can feel welcome, valued and respected," the university said, adding that it has strong policies in place to protect staff and students against “all forms of harassment, including online harassment".
Samant has been working on completing her MSc course in Energy Systems at the university remotely from her hometown in Udupi, after she flew back to India in the wake of her resignation.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)