Massey University Palmerston North Campus. photo / supplies
Police say they are aware of concerns that right-wing Indian nationalist groups are operating in New Zealand and have a protection plan for an academic targeted by online trolls.
The remarks come after a professor at Massey University in Aotearoa was criticized for his research into Hindu nationalist ideology.
A police spokesperson said security plans were in place for the chairman of the dean of communication professor Mohan Dutta after complaining of objectionable social media posts about him and the university earlier this month .
Reading: Massey University professor vulnerable to trolls
Police believe the trolls are overseas, but they supported Dutta and had lengthy talks with him.
“We are aware of the concerns expressed that Indian nationalist or extreme right-wing groups are operating in New Zealand. “
But none are named as terrorist organizations in New Zealand, the spokesperson said.
“The police are concerned about all forms of extremism in New Zealand which can manifest as dangerous acts of violence.”
In May, Dutta published a two-page white paper on the Islamophobic elements of right-wing Hindu nationalist ideology, or Hindutva, calling for careful consideration of its presence in New Zealand.
Hindutva refers to a political ideology that seeks to establish a united Hindu nation in India, a movement that has gained traction since Narendra Modi’s nationalist Bharatiya Janata party came to power in 2014.
Dutta and other scholars have insisted that Hinduism is not Hindutva, an extremist political ideology that opposes the pluralistic and democratic ethics of Hinduism.
“Hindutva extremism is a threat to Hinduism,” he said.
The white paper drew polarized views, with at least two local Hindu community groups lambasting Dutta and others for supporting their work.
The New Zealand Hindu Council and affiliated New Zealand Hindu Youth have claimed that Dutta and the university are promoting Hinduphobia.
“The academic freedom of Massey University harms the Hindu community,” the Hindu Parishad said in a statement, adding that Dutta portrayed Hindus “in a very bad light.”
Young Hindus raised a question regarding the use of the word “Hindu” in research on political ideologies.
Its president Murali Krishna Magesan said, “Say it for this: right-wing Indian nationalism,” the white paper asserts, “there may be physical attacks against Hindus,” especially against students.
“The last thing the Hindu youth of New Zealand want to do is try to inform… The Hindu of New Zealand that Massey University supports Hindu and Hindu and Hindu students should turn to to other higher education institutions where they will not be marginalized and can feel safe, ”said its president Murali Krishna Magesan.
According to the 2018 census, there are 121,644 Hindus in New Zealand, one of the fastest growing religious groups in the country.
Several Indian minority groups gather here around Dutta and over 100 international academics who have written letters of support.
The Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians (AAPI) has launched a petition calling for Mahi’s public support for Dutta’s defense of academic freedom.
The New Zealand Indian Association of Minorities, in a letter to Massey University and the Human Rights Commission, condemned the “influx of hatred, discrimination and boos” against Dutta.
Hindus for Human Rights Australia and New Zealand said the attacks on the professor were false allegations.
He said in a statement: “We … urge the governments of Aotearoa and Australia to investigate the rise in religious extremism between Hindustva groups in the two countries, which we believe could lead to social distancing. within the Indian diaspora. There is a serious threat to unity. .
Dutta began receiving online attacks in late August after speaking at an international online conference titled “Dismantling the Global Hindutva” from September 10-12.
The professor told the Herald that he receives at least 80 Twitter messages and tags a day, calling it “grade a tw **,” “stinking a ** hole” and “boot licker.”
Conference organizers and participating academics and institutions across the world also faced harassment and even death threats, which sparked a coordinated effort to intimidate and end the important Hindutva debate in the media. There were reports of the attack.
Dutta continues to see objectionable messages and posts online about him and his work. He says he and his family are afraid to go to the grocery store.
A Facebook post by the Hindu Council in early September contained a comment calling on Hindus to boycott Massey University, and another said if Dutta was in India he would have been “burned down.”
The comment on the fire was deleted last week along with a message from Hindu Parishad saying anyone would be at risk. Hindu Youth also condemned the threats against Dutta, his employer and his supporters.
The Indian News, an Auckland-based site, published an article on September 16 with a photograph by the name of Dutta claiming that an “anti-Hindu campaign” led by “a bunch of stinky rats” had reached New Zealand.
“I feel threatened enough to think about how we’re going to publish our next work?” Dutta told the Herald.
He says online attacks have a deterrent effect. The Facebook page for CARE, their research center at Massey University, has been shut down due to safety concerns for employees, many of whom are women.
“The kind of actions (that) silence the voices of academics in India, we are now seeing similar threats in other parts of the world, in western democracies,” he said.