For more than five years, I have received hate mail from Hindu nationalists almost every single day – Dr. Audrey Truschke

In an event at Rutgers University Prof Dr. Audrey Truschke spoke about the ‘Hindu Supremacism and threats to Academic Freedom in the United States’. Dr. Audrey Truschkle is an associate professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University, the state university of new Jersey.

She said that Hindu nationalism is a political ideology that advocates for Hindu supremacy and the exclusion of members of other Indian religous groups from equal participation in Indian society. It is a fiercely anti intellectual ideology in both conception and practice, she added.

She specifically spoke about the threat that this hateful politics movement also known as Hinduvta, “posing in real time academic freedom in the United States.”

For more than five years, she has received hate mail from Hindu nationalists almost every single day. She has been the target of so many death and rape threats that she lost count.

Dr. Truschkle said, “The most recent violent threat against me was made last week via phone to a general Rutgers phone number by a man spouting Hindu supremacist rhetoric. The police are investigating. My family too have been threatened with all manner of violence including my children who are ages three five and seven at present,” she added.

Dr. Audrey Truschkle often requires armed security when she speak publicly whether about modern south Asia or ancient Indian history.

“The last time I gave a public lecture was less than two weeks ago in the western suburbs of Chicago. To ensure both my safety and the safety of the audience. There were multiple armed security personnel present. I want to emphasize how extraordinary and how worrisome it is that I require armed protection on US soil to speak about areas of my scholarly expertise,” she said.

“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 governments, elected officials, and Rutgers administrators in order to silence me, a scholar.”

Some of this harassment has come from overseas and a certain share comes from the United States, she said. In fact, Dr. Truschkle added Hindu supremacists who were born and raised on US soil have taken over a leadership role in the relentless attacks against me in recent months.

“What have I done to merit such treatment you might ask my scholarship explores the truths about Indian history. That south Asia has been a diverse place where many cultural and religious groups coexist,” she said.

This basic fact poses a huge challenge to the political project of Hindu nationalism. Hindu supremacists find so much of South Asian history threatening especially the many parts featuring Muslims,” she said.

Prof Audrey Truschkle is an expert in the Hindu and Muslim interactions in the 16th and 17th centuries.

“The same folks who attcak me for teaching about Muslims and India’s past also demonize Muslims today as their primary enemy. As the main group to dehumanize as a foil for advocating for Hindu supremacy. In fact Hindu nationalists largely say out India’s independence struggle against British colonial rulers in the first half of the 20th century and that is because they the Hindu nationalist identified Muslim s rather than the British as their primary enemy,” she said.

Dr. Truschkle said Muslims are Hindu supremacists favourite group to hate and those of who reasearch and teach indo-muslim history are further Carnage in this brutal assault.

“While I’m a favourite target of US base Hindu supremacists I’m not exceptional many other scholars of South Asia have been targeted as well as you’ve. Not only nationalist overseas but also by US citizens. Who are part of this homegrown branch of this Hindu supremacists hate. In fact the supremacists based in th US have been some of the leaders in the campaign of fear and intimaidtaion against the global Hinduvta conference that’s occuring in a couple of days,” she said.

“The Hindu supremacists attacks against me and numerous other scholars reached a crescendo of sorts in March April of 2021 in a series of coordinated attacks. That experience plus years of years of enduring virtriol prompted me and about 20 colleagues to form the South Asia scholar activist collective (SASIC).

SASIC are a group of North America based academics who believe in the twin pillars off humanity’s scholarship and inclusive progressive politics. Their first act as a collective was to author the Hinduvta harassment field manual. It is freely available online resource that explains hindu supremacist hate also known as Hinduvta and how it’s organized.

The filed manual covers how Hindu supremacists make bad faith claims of bias trying to hide their bigotry behind the smoke screen on Hinduism a move that is very offensive to many Hindus.

The field manual also talks about long list of people and groups that Hindu nationalism hurts including Muslims, lower castes especially Dalits, indigenous peoples Christians, academics, students and Hindus.

The field manual offers guidance and resources for how to navigate hindu nationalist assaults for target allies students and University administrations.

“As a member of the south Asia scholar activist collective I hope that this field manual will help others whether these horrific attacks. But we need to do more,” says Dr. Audrey. “Hindu supremacists are infringing on academic freedom in both India and the US right now. And we need to stop that,” she said.

“Earlier this year, my reasearch on Hindu nationalism led me to focus on a group that promotes Hindu supremacists ideas in the US, the Hindu American foundation. In May as my research was ongoing that group sued me. The lawsuit is a blatant attempt to frustrate my reasearch and to chill academic freedom for all who study South Asian related topics.”

However, she said her attorneys have articulated these points in a motion to dismiss that is pending. This lawsuit is the most recent line attack in a concerted set of pressures that aim to stop scholarly work and to exert Hindu supremacist control over academics.

“Such goals are simply put unacceptable and Anti intellectual,” Dr. Audrey Truschkle said, adding, “I hope you all will agree that the time is now to take Hindu supremacy seriously as a form of American nad transnational hate. That threatens the values that we hold dearest.”

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