Vice-Chancellors and Professors from across the country has unaverred their support to Indian-origin student Karan Kataria, a Master of Law student at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) who has been the victim of a vile smear campaign and discrimination.
It is to be noted that, on April 2, Karan Kataria exposed Hinduphobia and anti-India rhetoric prevalent on the LSE campus. Karan Kataria posted on social media that he was disqualified from contesting elections for the LSE Student Union after a smear campaign was launched against him.
He said, “Unfortunately, some individuals could not bear to see an Indian-Hindu leading the LSESU and resorted to vilifying my character and very identity in what was clearly in line with the alarming cancel culture which is uprooting our social communities.
“This unjustified attack on Karan has not only shook the Indian academic community but has also reverberated around the world. According to our estimates, this incident has caused hundreds of potential applicants to reconsider their decision to attend LSE” the petition by VC’s and Professors reads.
“Karan is a highly accomplished, socially active, and academically successful student. His unwavering dedication and perseverance have served as an inspiration to both his peers and mentors. We are proud to recognise his outstanding achievements, including his academic success as a gold medalist in his undergraduate programme and admission to LSE. Despite significant challenges, Karan has demonstrated unrivalled determination and excellence. We firmly believe that he deserves the highest level of respect and support for his achievements and contributions”, the petition reads.
The petition further reads that, “Karan has faced heinous discrimination and harassment that has no place in academia or society at large. As members of the academic community, we are adamant about maintaining the integrity of our profession as well as the trust of our students and the broader community. These allegations must be thoroughly and impartially investigated, and Karan’s candidature for General Secretary must be reinstated. If justice is not served, we will not hesitate to appeal to Indian students and parents to reconsider LSE as a higher education destination. We remain hopeful that fairness and justice will prevail and that the necessary steps will be taken to ensure that Karan receives the respect and support he deserves”.
The signatories to open letter includes, Prof Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit, VC JNU, Dr KC Banger, Former Chairman Haryana Public Service Commission and VC Guru Jambeshwar University, Prof Raj Nehru, VC Shri Vishwakarma Skill University, Prof Heeraman Tiwari, Chairperson, Centre for Historical Studies, JNU, Prof (Dr) Dinesh Kumar, VC Gurugram University etc.
“This incident has captured the attention of the academic community in India and beyond. Karan Kataria has fought with the LSE student union over the smear campaign initiated against him. He was falsely accused of being a Hindu nationalist, an Islamophobe, a homophobe, and a queerphobic”, reads the press release by academicians.
“The LSE student union disqualified Karan Kataria on a technical and formal basis, citing a twometer rule, without conducting a thorough investigation into his and several other Indian students’ complaints of hate crimes. The Commonwealth Student Association condemned this action and requested that the LSE SU combat prejudice on campus. It is unacceptable to disqualify a student without thorough investigation and due process”, the press release reads.
The press release further reads that “Mukulika Banerjee, a member of the Anthropology Department’s faculty, participated in this defamatory campaign alongside students, according to multiple news accounts. She shared Karan Kataria’s personal photographs, as evidenced by leaked WhatsApp messages. This type of serious academic misconduct is abhorrent, and such personal interests should not be pursued at the expense of a student’s reputation. Mukulika Banerjee has written numerous articles against India”.
The academia of numerous institutions, including the Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, and approximately 15 Vice Chancellors and former Vice Chancellors, as well as more than 150 deans, professors, and assistant professors, have condemned Dr. Banerjee’s involvement and demanded a strong response and impartial investigation. All of them have praised Karan Kataria’s work for student welfare in India, and despite numerous obstacles, he received a gold medal for his law degree.
Karan Kataria on April 3 said that, “Despite receiving immense support from students of all nationalities, I was disqualified from the General Secretary election of the LSE Student Union. The allegations against me ranged from being homophobic, Islamophobic, queerphobic, and Hindu Nationalist,” he said.
Furthermore, he told, “Following it, multiple complaints were lodged against me. Many false accusations were made to discredit my image and character when, to the contrary, I have always advocated for positive change and social harmony.”
It is pertinent to note that Karan Kataria comes from a middle-class farmer’s family in the state of Haryana and is a first-generation university-level graduate in his family. Furthermore, he was elected as the cohort’s Academic Representative and as a Delegate to the National Union for Students. He has extensively engaged in student welfare-related positions at the LSE.