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Indian student alleges targeted hate campaign during London college elections

Written by  Jasleen Kaur -- March 27th 2024 09:43 AM
Indian student alleges targeted hate campaign during London college elections

Indian student alleges targeted hate campaign during London college elections

London (UK), March 27: Satyam Surana, the Indian student who gained attention for retrieving the Tricolour during an attack on the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom by extremists last year, is now speaking out against alleged hate and smear campaigns targeted at him during this year's student union elections at the London School of Economics (LSE).

Satyam Surana claims that just hours before voting began, a meticulously orchestrated hate campaign was launched against him. He salleged that the hate campaign aimed to link him with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and brand him as a 'fascist,' apparently in a bid to instigate a boycott against him and his electoral bid.


Originally from Pune, Surana has also practiced at the Bombay High Court for several months and is currently pursuing an LLM at the London School of Economics, with his course concluding later this year. Describing the series of events, the Indian student said the London college elections were announced in February and early March, during which he filed his nomination for the position of general secretary.

"Between March 14 and 15, we observed that my posters were being torn down. We reported this to the authorities. After we replaced the posters, on the 16th, we found some posters defaced with crosses on my face and the words 'anyone but Satyam.' I was effectively canceled out," Surana told ANI.

"On the afternoon of the 17th, messages started circulating in all LSE groups, including Indian groups and law school groups. These messages claimed that 'Satyam Surana is a BJP supporter, a fascist, an Islamophobe, a transphobe.' The messages were highly provocative and critical of the Indian government and the current establishment," he added.

Surana alleged that radical elements also screenshotted his posts on social media where he had merely praised the BJP government, using them with a malicious agenda to label him as a "fascist."

He said his manifesto contained no political points, focusing instead on genuine issues on campus. Despite initially receiving overwhelming support, this hate campaign derailed his chances.

Surana

"With my entire team, I campaigned across the campus, reaching out to various departments and explaining our policies. I had a well-written manifesto that was not political. It addressed the need for improvement at LSE, including the establishment of a grievance redressal portal and subsidised food on campus. We were gaining support, with people promising to vote for me," Surana added.

"However, out of the three candidates, I was the only one targeted randomly. When these messages started circulating, my entire team was shocked, and our morale was shattered," he added.

Reflecting on the episode at the Indian High Commission last year, Surana recalled, "Around early October, I made headlines for picking up the national flag outside the Indian High Commission among the Khalistani protestors. I received media coverage and was interviewed by national media channels."

He further revealed that he was targeted for referring to Khalistanis as 'terrorists' in one of his posts.

"This is my country, and I will always advocate for it. How is Indian politics relevant to student union elections in the UK? My views and endorsements of my government are entirely my opinion," Surana added.

Surana pointed out that his photograph with Maharashtra Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, taken during Fadnavis's India visit, was used by extremist elements to claim that "he is linked to the BJP".

He believes that since the smear campaign targeted the 'right wing,' it was likely planned by 'left-wing' groups.

"I was labeled a Neo-Nazi supporter, Right Wing, off-campus. When the message circulated as 'right wing off-campus,' it indicates that the campaign was dictated and planned by left-wing groups," Surana remarked.

When asked if the hate campaign against him was initiated by an Indian or a foreigner, Surana revealed that the first message he received was from an Indian, and most of those involved were also Indians.

He asserted that this was not a random or personal campaign but a "well-planned hate and toolkit campaign" involving individuals politically motivated against the incumbent BJP government in India.

However, despite gathering support initially, Surana was unable to win the election. He believes that the targeted campaign against him hurt his goodwill.

"This campaign had a significant impact on me and my life on campus, even after the elections. However, I did receive support from many people who stood by me," Surana stated.

He expressed his dismay that the majority of those involved in the hate campaign were fellow Indian students. "What hurts the most is that these were our fellow Indian students circulating these messages and questioning India's sovereignty. It's shameful that Indian students are undermining the sovereignty and integrity of our country," he concluded.

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