Prominent organizations and intellectuals have come out in support of Rutgers University—Newark professor Audrey Truschke, who has faced intense scrutiny and a barrage of online backlash for comments over Hindutva, a form of Hindu nationalism that seeks to make India exclusively Hindu.
In a letter sent to University President Robert L. Barchi, the Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA), an umbrella organization of progressive South Asian groups, expressed “appreciation and gratitude” to the University for standing by the professor. The University previously stated they supported Truschke for her “public-facing scholarship.”
The letter also mentioned the online comments and petitions which accuse Truschke of Hinduphobia and attempting to get her arrested. The letter referred to the actions as “intimidatory tactics” and “online trolling.”
“These actions clearly seek to stifle Dr. Truschke’s scholarship and to suppress the findings of her research that are inconvenient to the fascist agenda of these entities,” the letter stated.
The letter also noted that ties between Naziism and Hindutva were historically accurate and that Truschke was being targeted by affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which it was diagnosed as a “supremacist organization,” that sought to make Christians, Jews and Muslims second class citizens.
Hindutva proponents had a negative reception to the letter.
“How twisted of them to play 'victim’ here,” said Renee Lynn, a political activist and creator of the Change.org petition that asked the Indian Prime Minister to rescind Truschke’s visa and arrest her, in an email to the Targum. “If Truschke is so righteous, impartial and objective why doesn’t she expose ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh?”
Lynn also noted the large number of supporters under her petition.
“Almost 12,000 signatures so far and growing daily on my petition, can we all be wrong and she right?” she wrote. “She is the real troll and troublemaker here.”
Truschke had no comment on the threats to revoke her visa, but said that she would continue her scholarly research and appreciated the support from the AJA.
“I am always heartened to see a robust defense of the academic pursuit of history, including aspects of history that some find uncomfortable today,” she said.