Lynching Case: Petition to Withdraw Jayant Sinha’s Harvard Alumni Status

Jayant Sinha recently honored the accused involved in a lynching incident. Photo:
Jayant Sinha recently honored the accused involved in a lynching incident. Photo:

An online petition has been launched today against a BJP leader and Indian minister Jayant Sinha who recently honored the accused involved in a lynching incident.

Started on the public website, the petition addressed to the President of Harvard University Lawrence Bacow demands the withdrawal of Sinha’s Harvard Alumni status.

It states that Jayant Sinha, a Minister in the Indian Government and an Alumni of Harvard University, recently garlanded and honored convicts accused of lynching Mr. Alimuddin Ansari.

“These actions by the Minister have shocked the nation and brought disrepute to the great institution. As a responsible citizen of this country and as an Alumni of Harvard, I strongly condemn these actions and ask the Harvard University to withdraw his Alumni status,” suggests the petitioner Prateek Kanwal.

Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi is urging people to sign the petition. “If the sight of a highly educated MP and Central Minister, Jayant Sinha, garlanding and honouring criminals convicted of lynching an innocent man, fills you with disgust, click on the link and support this petition,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

According to the petitioner, India is at present struggling with a surge in mob related violence that has claimed many lives. In the last seven months, there have been over 70 mob attacks, where close to 33 people have been killed.

These attacks, according to the petitioner, fueled by deliberate rumor mongering, are more often than not targeted at members of minority communities, Dalits, tribals and women to spread fear and to polarize the electorate for political gain.

One such case was the lynching of Mr. Alimuddin Ansari, on 29th June, 2017, in the state of Jharkhand in the east of India, on suspicion that he was carrying beef in his car.

Eight men who were convicted in this case were recently released on bail, pending the disposal of their appeal against their conviction in a higher court.

Mr. Sinha, who is at present a Minister in the Indian Government, in a show of solidarity with these convicts, was photographed honoring them with traditional Indian garlands and sweets, the petition informs.

Mr. Sinha’s callous and insensitive actions, have generated tremendous anger in India and have been widely reported in newspapers, on television news channels, social media and other digital platforms.

Unfortunately, the petitioner states, most media reports allude to the fact that he is an alumnus of Harvard University. Which is our reason for writing to you – to draw your attention to the fact that the Harvard’s name is being sullied in India, on account of its association with Mr. Sinha.

“Post my graduation,” the petitioner adds, “I decided to come back to India to serve the people of my country. I was hoping to collaborate with the alumni of our great institution to fulfil the dream of a developed India.”

“However, Mr. Sinha’s action has come as a rude shock to me and has made me question the very ethos of our alumni movement. It is now up to you to restore faith in the power of working with and through our network,” the petitioner says.

“Under the circumstances, you may consider issuing a statement strongly condemning his actions, to mitigate any further damage to the Harvard brand in India. We also ask that you withdraw his alumni status on account of his inappropriate behavior that has brought disrespect to the name of your hallowed institution,” the petition states.

Nearly 5,000 people have already signed the petition.

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Rakesh Raman