As Dismantling Global Hindutva conference opens today, participants tell of threats, intimidation, lies and smears from Hindu nationalist right-wing supporters of Hindutva
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C (Sept. 10, 2021) – As the Dismantling Global Hindutva online global conference begins today, participants are coming forward to share with the world the threats of physical harm, state-sponsored disinformation campaigns, Indian right-wing media bias and cyber attacks from Hindu nationalist groups hoping to scuttle the conference.
Meanwhile, the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations has condemned the attacks on the conference by the Hindu right wing, Hindutva.
Despite the massive campaign of disinformation and intimidation, support for the conference has only grown. When the attacks began, the conference was backed by more than 45 departments and centers from 41 universities. Now, the conference has the support of 70 cosponsoring units and centers from 53 universities.
More than 10,000 have registered to attend the three-day online conference.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF COMMUNICATION, SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY
“The level of hate has been staggering. Organizers and speakers have received death threats, threats of sexual violence, and threats of violence against their families. Women participants have been subjected to the vilest kind of misogynistic threats and abuse, and members of caste and religious minority groups associated with the conference have been targeted with casteist and sectarian slurs in the ugliest sorts of language.”
“Each such instance of violent and forced censorship is meant to create a chilling effect. The hope of the Hindu Right is to intimidate and bully scholars so that no one dares analyze Hindutva in any manner other than the unequivocally laudatory or hagiographic.”
PROFESSOR GYAN PRAKASH
DAYTON-STOCKTON PROFESSOR OF HISTORY AT PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
“This conference takes place at an urgent moment in my country’s history at a time when farmers, workers, women, Dalits, Adivasis, Bahujans, Muslims, religious and sexual minorities, are opposing the project of Hindu majoritarian nationalism being put into practice by the Sangh Parivar,” wrote Professor Gyan Prakash, Dayton-Stockton Professor of History at Princeton University. “As education is an arena where Hindutva seeks to establish its dominance and control, such a conference is a collective intellectual exercise to plot and imagine our way out of this caste-fanatic, misogynist nightmare.”
MEENA KANDASAMY, POET AND AUTHOR
“The conference is an opportunity to understand how Hindutva poses itself as Hinduism and identifies India with its undemocratic ideology and politics. This is important because Hindutva has become the ideology of the Indian state with all its undemocratic implications for women, Dalits, Muslims, and the right to dissent.”
DEEPA KUMAR, PROFESSOR OF MEDIA STUDIES AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY
Congressional testimony: “This conference has been subjected to overwhelming attack both in India and in the United States. Fringe groups have placed immense pressure upon universities to back out of the conference. Their line of attack has been to falsely characterize the conference as anti-Hindu, even though conference organizers have made clear on the website for the conference from the start that they are critiquing the 100-year-old, fascist-inspired Hindutva ideology.”
“I was informed that Hindu supremacists have bombarded university servers with this disinformation, sending close to one million emails to the Presidents, Provosts, and other officials at cosponsoring universities.”
“At Drew University for example, the servers registered over 30,000 emails within a few minutes. University servers were overwhelmed and had to block all emails containing the conference title in them, including legitimate emails.”
“Electronic attacks on the conference have included attempts to shut down the Eventbrite registration page; the Facebook page was shut down, but conference organizers are working to reinstate it; the conference website was taken down for a period of two days, and there was a successful attack on the conference email address, shutting it down for a day.”
Indian Right-Wing Media Lies
“In India, the conference was attacked on prime-time television shows run by known far-right and Hindutva-affiliated news anchors. The have claimed that the conference is funded by everyone from George Soros to the CIA to other foreign governments.”
THOMAS BLOM HANSEN
CHAIR AND PROFESSOR, DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY, STANFORD UNIVERSITY
Congressional testimony: “It is clear that the campaign to suppress critical scholarship and discussion of Hindutva has escalated over the past decades, in particular since Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s victory in 2014, which has given many Hindutva activists a sense of impunity. However, such abuse are illegal acts that need to be reported to the police and to campus security immediately.”
“Hindutva activists do not represent Hindus as such. They actually represent the interests of a foreign government. The true face of the Hindutva project in India and the rest of world needs to be understood and documented, relentlessly. U.S. based academics are well positioned to be part of this work and uphold the value of fact-based scholarship against partisan forces that are trying to manipulate how Indian society and Indian history are understood in the wider public, in India, and in the U.S.”
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF SOUTH ASIAN HISTORY AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY
Congressional testimony: “I am the target of repeated smears and misinformation campaigns. Hindu nationalist groups have tried, unsuccessfully so far, to prompt my employer, Rutgers University, to take punitive action against me. Many Hindu supremacists openly discuss trying to influence the New Jersey state government, elected officials, and Rutgers administrators in order to silence me, a scholar.”
“While I am a favorite target of US-based Hindu supremacists, I am not exceptional. Many other scholars of South Asia have been targeted as well – not only by nationalists overseas but also by U.S. citizens who are part of this homegrown form of Hindu supremacist hate. In fact, Hindu supremacists based in the United States have led the campaign of fear and intimidation against the academic conference, Dismantling Global Hindutva.”
PROFESSOR AT THE HINDI DEPARTMENT, FACULTY OF ARTS
Congressional testimony: “The idea of academic freedom has now become redundant in India barring one or two states. The primary reason is the complete takeover of all institutions by the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party, which is the political wing of the Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh, a fascist organization which works in the name of Hindu supremacy.”
“It also rules the media space as most of the TV channels and newspapers have become its mouth organ. Rules have been framed depriving teachers of having and expressing their own opinion if it goes against the state. They cannot publish without the permission of the university authorities, especially if it critical of the state policies.”
“Many central universities in India which are centrally funded have adopted these service rules. They are forbidden from making any collective representation, even about academic and logistical issues. Recently, three teachers at a central university were issued show cause notice for having written collectively asking for internet facility on the campus for online classes. Before that, a general warning was issued after one of the faculty members published an article critical of the ideology of the ruling party.”