Audrey Turshke, the US and Hindu right’s attempts to shut her down.
The recent avalanche of assault that Audrey Turshke - assistant prof of South Asian studies at Rutgers University received, has long crossed the line and showed How the Hindu right scholars and brainwashed groups are creating an echo-chamber -- clearly revealing that the vicious campaign against her since 2018 has a lot more to do with her opposition to Hindutva ideology than about her scholarship or style. They bear all the hallmarks of similar attacks by the Hindu Right in recent years against intellectuals in India.
Who is she? What is her work about?
Her work revolves around dispelling some myths about the Indian Medieval history, Focusing more on Sanskrit in the Mughal court and Aurangzeb.
Now when Indians look back to that era, they have a politically motivated theologically drive lens than a historic one -- adversely misrepresenting the facts. For example -- People talk about How the Aurangzeb reinstituted the Jizya tax or he destroyed some (dozens) Hindu temples, But while representing him in history -- They portray him as a bigoted anti-Hindu maniac. This causality does not come out of the Mughal context, It comes out of our modern contexts. What actually happened was that, yes, Aurangzeb destroyed many temples but he Protected more than he destroyed. Later in history, he also canceled taxes on many Hindu pilgrimage sites. People reading the past with political biases can cherry-pick evidence but as a historian she can’t, that's why her work is considered controversial or unsatisfying to biased Indian readers.
What's happening with her?
Fortunately, Unlike BJP led India, And castisest universities Like IIT-Kharagpur, freedom and the right to dissent are still alive in the United States. Rutgers University was quick to reiterate its support for Truschke, while also giving a patient hearing to Hindu student groups. But she had to self censor her books in India (In a country where finding the truth is like finding a needle in a haystack, as Indians have never got the full story), Students from the US don’t even get VISA for their projects in these topics, many of her colleagues have turned away from publishing books in India.
India became the country with most internet shutdowns and censorships in 2020 because Hindu patriotism is simply the core of Propaganda here. This has led to the transition of Hindu Nationalism from an extremist ideology to defining mainstream India.
The attacks on her are the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers, where Truschke does not even teach; but where groups that advocate Hindutva ideology and are considered part of the Sangh Parivar, such as the Hindu Students Council (HSC) and the Hindu YUVA, are active.
Those groups, having failed to discredit her with the Rutgers administration, are now trying to double down with a conference on their preposterous narrative of widespread ‘Hinduphobia’ in the US. Unfortunately, some Indian scholars like Vikram Zutshi have also joined this bandwagon, judging Turshke by the passport she carries, the color of her skin, and even her sex. Zutshi’s article regrettably echoes the talking points emerging from a well-coordinated project of the Hindu Right in the United States, targeting intellectuals and historians in service of their masters in India. Unfortunately for Truschke, she is the latest chosen victim.
What do I Take Away from this?
To continually relive and reinvent stories of real or imagined Hindu persecution over the centuries, as if they were happening now, as justification for the mounting violence and disenfranchisement of India’s minorities. Any historian or activist who stands in the way of that project is labeled ‘Hinduphobic’ and relentlessly attacked.
This was quite evident in the recent fake case of “Rashmi Sawant” from Oxford. The gates of truth for Indians are closing and even this trash is Mutilating other countries which were quite evident recently in this case -
Recruiting young voices have long been a tool of Hindu right in the US. What question you should ask is why you are patriotic? Because that’s what they want.
What will happen if you didn't ask that question?
This -- a sheer genocide is going on in covid -- and your silence has enabled it.
Writer - Nikhil Gajbhiye
Editor - Priyam Kusundal
Illustrator - Jhem Picache
Graphic Designer - Jhem Picache