Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told Parliament on Monday that India can “never turn eyes away from racism” and will “champion the fight” against it, the Hindustan Times reported.
Jaishankar’s response came after Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha MP Ashwini Vaishnaw alleged in the Rajya Sabha that Rashmi Samant, an Indian student who quit from the post of the Oxford University student union president, was forced to do so as she was cyber bullied.
Samant, a 22-year old graduate student had won the Oxford Student Union election for the president’s post in February, PTI reported. However, a week later some of her old social media posts were called “racist” and “insensitive”.
Jaishankar said matters such as these will be taken up with the United Kingdom “when required”. “As the land of Mahatma Gandhi, we can never ever turn our eyes away from racism,” the foreign minister added. “Particularly so when it is in a country where we have such a large diaspora. We have strong ties with the UK. We will take up such matters with great candour when required.”
Samant’s posts included a holocaust reference during a visit to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial in Germany in 2017 and an Instagram caption of her picture in Malaysia that read “Ching Chang”. She was also criticised for a post that separated women and trans women, PTI reported.
Samant later announced her resignation as the president-elect as she continued to face criticism.
“In light of the recent events surrounding my election to the Presidency of the Oxford SU, I believe it is best for me to step down from the role,” Samant wrote in her resignation letter. “It has been an honour to be your president-elect.”
However, since her resignation, Samant has been vocal against what she has termed as “faculty harassing, stalking and bullying”. In a tweet last week, she posted a clip on a discussion on the topic, with the caption, “Cancel the cancel culture!!!”
Earlier this month, her Twitter account was also suspended.
BJP MP Ashwini Vaishnaw referred to the episode as “continuation of attitudes and prejudices from the colonial areas, especially in the UK”, the Hindustan Times reported.
“Her diversity should have been celebrated but instead of that, she was cyberbullied to the point that she had to resign and even the Hindu religious beliefs of her parents were publicly attacked by a faculty member and that also went unpunished,” Vaishnaw said, according to NDTV. “If this is the kind of treatment that happens at the highest institute like Oxford what is the message that goes out to the world?”
Responding to him, Jaishankar said that said that India will monitor such matters “very very closely”, the Hindustan Times reported.