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Letter to the Editor: Attempts to politicize a vigil for terror victims

We are writing to express our disappointment with a letter published in The Lantern on Feb. 26, titled “Understanding the political situation in Kashmir,” written by Dr. Pranav Jani. In this letter, Jani has accused Hindu YUVA, a registered Ohio State student organization, of demonizing “Kashmiris and Pakistanis as a whole,” without any proof. We would also like to express our concerns that his letter discourages freedom of expression on a vibrant and diverse university campus like Ohio State’s and effectively encourages intellectual bullying against a racial and cultural minority community composed mostly of immigrant students.

We would like to bring to the attention of your readers that Jani has not attended any of our events, including the candlelight vigil for the Valentine’s Day terror attack victims, and all his accusations are politically motivated and biased. While there are several angles to the history of terrorism in India, none of those can and should justify a suicide bomber detonating hundreds of pounds of explosives killing 40 security personnel. Is Jani in effect arguing that Hindu students at Ohio State have no right to express their concerns about acts of terrorism? We would like to reiterate this part of the United Nations Security Council’s statement on this attack here: “all acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed.”

(https://www.mid-day.com/articles/unsc-strongly-condemns-heinous-and-cowardly-pulwama-attack-by-jem/20453171)

For the record, we would like to clarify that Hindu YUVA has been operating on Ohio State’s campus since 2010, and our events have always been peaceful, open and welcoming to all members of the campus community. Here is an overview of some of our recent events:

– Celebrating Hindu festivals: we celebrate Ganesh Festival, Navratri, Diwali, and Hindu New Year on campus, giving the Hindu students, most of whom are from India, an opportunity to keep practicing the traditions even when they are away from their families.

– Interfaith events: During the past academic year, we have celebrated some of the above-mentioned festivals in collaboration with other faith-based organizations. In spring 2018, we organized a Hindu New Year and Passover dinner with Hillel OSU, and in fall 2018, we celebrated Diwali and Hanukkah together, both being festivals of light. More than 100 members of different religious and ethnic backgrounds attended each of these events.

– Service/Volunteering: we have worked with the Bhutanese-Nepalese refugees in the Morse Road area to help the middle-school children in the community with their homework. Our volunteers have put together dozens of volunteering hours in this and other similar activities.

– Awareness about our culture: We routinely invite speakers from different backgrounds to spread awareness about Hindu culture. Some of our recent speakers were Professor Lavanya Vemsani, History and Religious Studies, Shawnee State University, and Professor Pankaj Jain, Philosophy & Religion, University of North Texas.

It is very unfortunate that a faculty member is trying to impute political motivations to a student organization representing a small religious minority on campus. It is also worth highlighting the fact that it is Jani, who is politicizing the issue by sharing his Lantern letter with Kavita Krishnan, a leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist faction on Facebook. It should be noted that the communist parties have a history of violence in India and elsewhere.

We would like to request the campus community to not be influenced by the political agenda of some faculty members of the university who misuse their academic pulpits to promote a political agenda and stifle free speech on the campus. We invite the larger campus community to engage with our organization and celebrate the Hindu culture with us.

Thanks,

Hindu YUVA Executive Committee

3 comments

  1. Achintyachintaka

    While reading the letter by a Dr. Jani what comes across most is a vitriolic anger and grudge against
    India. What he does not explain is that it is not the Bharatiya Janata Party that is responsible for the
    conditions in Jammu Kashmir but this situation started by the invasion of Kashmir by Pakistan in
    1946. It was the then Indian National Congress Party (Congress Party) that democratically ruled secular India that defended the Kashmir with military involvement and not Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or RSS whom he imputes the blame for the Indian Military presence in Kashmir. Congress Party ruled over India and Jawaharlal Nehru the first Prime Minister of India was spearheading the conflict instigated by Pakistan
    invasion. Congress ruled for 60 some years since 1947 when the conflict began. BJP only arrived on the national scene in late 1990’s and again in 2014. There is no question that this Professor of English has
    Communist leanings to suppress the facts and create public animosity by creating dots in his own version to suit the Communist and Leftist rhetoric in India which he imports to the US by holding a position in
    South Asia department. BJP has maintained democracy and its secular basis in India consistently and has not proposed to convert India into a Hindu theocracy or Hindu majority rule in India. His attempt to present himself as objective and neutral is disingenuous.

  2. Mahmoud El-Yousseph

    What if the shooter in Christchurch was a Muslim?

    After the terrorist attack at the two mosques in New Zealand, some Muslims have wondered what would have been the reaction if the Christchurch shooter was a Muslim and the victims were Christians or Jews? Here is a summary of what I think the reaction would be:

    The story with 24/7 news for days to come.
    Islam and Muslims would be put on trial.
    Trump will be tweeting to his 45 million followers, “I told you so, Islam hates us!”
    We would know what mosque the shooter attended, the charity he gave to, and his favorite vacation spot.
    The “Imam” of the mosque would be blamed for radicalizing the shooter and his rhetoric has stoked the attack.
    U.S. officials will be quick to condemn Muslims as bloodthirsty savages.
    It would the lead story on every TV station and a front page story in every newspaper.
    TV stations would preempt regularly scheduled programs for constant updates and analyses.
    Major TV networks will dispatch their top-notch hosts to broadcast from New Zealand.
    The topic would be on every radio talk show for listeners to vent their frustration.
    We will see more people use the slogan “Je Suis Christchurch” or “Je Suis New Zealand.”
    FaceBook users around the world would pay tribute to the victims by changing their profile pictures.
    Patriotic Americans will visit their Muslim neighbors and mosques with flowers and cookies for moral support.

    Last but not least, Muslim communities would be asked the most naive question: Do they condone or condemn this terrorist attack?

  3. Gunter Heidelschmidt

    Thank you for this letter, Dr. Jani’s letter was insulting, disgusting, and never should have been published. His professorship is a dark stain on this university and his tenure should never have been approved.

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