07:36 GMT19 April 2021
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    On 11 February, 22-year-old Rashmi Samant made history by becoming the first-ever Indian woman to be elected as the president of the Oxford University Student Union (OUSU). She, however, was forced to step down within a week after some of her past controversial social media posts were pulled up by netizens and her university peers.

    Rashmi Samant, the first Indian woman president of the Oxford University Student Union (OUSU), has accused Twitter of repeated bias after her social media account was placed under restriction on Wednesday, a day after it was restored in the wake of a 36-hour ban. 

    The social media giant has reportedly claimed that 22-year-old Samant, an MSc student in energy systems, hid her real age at the time of creating her online account, which was in violation of its policy guidelines.

    Samant’s restored account didn’t have any of her previous tweets, and her followers had been reduced to zero. However, thanks to the massive online support she has been getting, Samant managed to amass around 14,000 followers, as of Wednesday morning.

    ​Samant, backed by many Indian social media users, has denied the reason given out by Twitter for suspending her account, claiming instead that she was being targeted for raising the concerns of a particular religious community. Netizens further accused Twitter of creating a "dangerous anti-Hindu system", a sentiment echoed by Samant in several interviews given by her since the controversy erupted last month.

    ​“There is a growing intolerance towards Hinduism and the culture that India symbolizes in today’s day and age”, Samant said, while discussing her experience of being bullied online as well as the suspension of her social media account, all after she stepped down as president-elect of the OUSU.

    In another interview given to Indian magazine Swarajya, Samant said she was mulling legal action against a university professor who had described her as “First Hindu President Elect” and claimed that all those who hailed from the region where she was from were “Islamophobic”.

    In the face of accusations over her religious leanings, Samant has maintained that to her, Hinduism is a “way of life” and “integral” to her existence.

    She resigned from her post as student union president last month after alleging that she was being bullied and abused online for her past social media posts. The results of the student body election at the world’s top-ranking university were declared on 11 February.

    Her past social media posts were thoroughly scrutinised and she was subjected to intense online trolling for previous remarks, described as “transphobic”, “racist”, as well as “insensitive” by many online users. Two campus outfits, the Oxford Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality (CRAE) and the Oxford LGBTQ+ Campaign, both called for her resignation before she finally decided in favour of hanging up her boots.

    The Indian national, a native of the southern Karnataka state, has regretted her past comments and had even published an apology in the university’s student publication "The Oxford Student". She said that one needed to scroll really far down on her Instagram account to see the contentious posts.


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