Threats of death, sexual violence sent to participants of US conference on Hindutva

The rightwing Hindu groups have sent death threats to scholars and activists who are the participants of an academic conference in the US addressing Hindu nationalism.

The conference, titled Dismantling Global Hindutva, which is co-sponsored by more than 53 universities including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Rutgers, has come under attack of rightwing after several Hindutva groups in India and the US accused the event of being “anti-Hindu,” and “politically motivated,”, according to various reports.

Several of the participants have withdrawn from the conference over fears it would lead to them being banned from returning to their families in India or being arrested on their arrival into the country, reported The Guardian.

Award winning author and activist Meena Kandasamy, who is also one among the speakers, had pictures of her children posted online with captions such as “ur son will face a painful death” as well as casteist abuses.

“This is the textbook Hindutva approach. They just indulge in character assassination, slandering my personal life, questioning the parentage of my children, asking if they were born to one father,” Al Jazeera quotes Kandasamy.

“We are deeply concerned that all of these lies, taken together, will be used to incarcerate those who speak at the conference, or worse, inflict bodily harm, up to murder, upon those associated with the conference,” reads the statement by the conference’s organisers.

“Due to the variety of the nature of these threats, several speakers have had to withdraw from participating in this conference over the past two to three days,” they added.

According to The Guardian, more than 1 million emails were sent to the presidents, provosts and officials at universities involved in the conference pressuring them to withdraw and dismiss staff who were participating, pointing to an organised campaign by groups in India and the US.

At Drew University in New Jersey, more than 30,000 emails were received in just a few minutes, causing the university server to crash.

“Organisers and speakers have received death threats, threats of sexual violence, and threats of violence against their families,” The UK newspaper quotes Rohit Chopra, an associate professor at Santa Clara University, who is one of the conference organisers, as saying.

Chopra too had received several emails accusing him of betraying Hindus.

Last week, more than 900 academics from across the world and 50 organisations connected to south Asia issued a collective statement in support of the conference.

The three-day conference, starting on September 10 and featuring more than 25 academicians, activists, and journalists as speakers, will host various panels on global Hindutva, caste oppression, Islamophobia, and the persecution of minorities in the country.

Delhi University professor Nandani Sundar, who is also one of the speakers at the conference, received hateful emails and was trolled on social media.