While Indian Americans in the United States are all set to celebrate the month of October as Hindu Heritage Month, a strange case has come to light targetting Hindu professors of a prestigious college just because of their religious affiliation.
Earlier, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi has earlier said in the House of Representatives that recognising the contribution and work of Hindus in America is important.
“Hindus in the United States include physicians, lawyers, scientists, economists, philosophers, artists, academics, business leaders, government officials and Members of Congress.”
He had added that this was important, especially “given the disturbing rise of prejudice and racism in this country, including Hinduphobia.”
Now, the student-led Twitter account Hindu on Campus informed about an attempt by a former computer science Ph.D. student named Maha Hasan Alshawi to unsuccessfully target and oust three Hindu professors.
Along with these claims, Maha Hasan Alshawi had initially alleged that her research advisor Dr. Alberto Quattrini Li entered her office without permission in 2019 and touched his private part twice for 20-30 seconds in her presence.
Last year, she also launched a 24-day hunger strike to push the college to investigate her complaints.
She soon ended the hunger strike as the school agreed to open an external investigation.
However, the first investigation report cleared Prof. Li of any wrongdoing and noted that he was not even present in the Upper Valley when such an incident occurred.
The investigators’ report also found that Maha Hasan Alshawi, who is no longer a graduate student at Dartmouth, did not disclose that she had made nearly identical claims against a former professor of hers in Egypt at the American University in Cairo.
“We find that there is insufficient evidence to support … a finding that (professor Alberto Quattrini Li) engaged in any conduct that would constitute Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment or Retaliation.”
She further accused her three professors from the Computer Science Department, namely, Deeparnab Chakrabarty, Amit Chakrabarti, and Prasad Jayanti of ‘retaliation’ and ‘discrimination on the basis of religion’ for complaining against her research advisor Li.
Maha Hasan Alshawi alleged that Professor Amit Chakrabarti did not continue as her research advisor and ‘forced’ her to find a new supervisor before April 3, 2020.
During the investigation, the Director of Institutional Diversity and Equity (IDE) Antonio Ferrantino noted that Maha Hasan Alshawi had made obscure remarks about the religious identity of Hindu professors in an email dated June 16, 2020.
“As I said before, (Respondent) Jayanti, (Respondent) Amit (Chakrabarti), Professor Deeparnab (Chakrabarty), and (Student 3) all belong to the same religion (Hindu), and they are all friends and colleagues.”
She added in her email:
“I think they were helping [Respondent] Jayanti in abusing me because I am a Muslim. Why do you think they abused me by threatening and penalizing me but they didn’t abuse anyone else?”
Although the IDE Director again asked her to provide specific information about the alleged harassment, the complainant refused to give any information.
“She said she believed that Hindus like seeing Muslims being tortured but there were no specifics. It was just her belief.”
Maha Hasan Alshawi also alleged that “Professor Prasad Jayanti was a member of an ‘Anti-muslim organisation named Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).”
“As to the report that Respondent Jayanti was a member of an anti-Muslim organisation, there was insufficient information to support that allegation. Respondent Ferrantino noted that the sole basis for the allegation was Complainant’s statement that she heard about Respondent Jayanti’s membership “online by an individual who lives in India.”
The report notes that she refused to provide further information about the Indian source and her allegations could not be ascertained with certainty.
External investigators retained by Dartmouth College cleared the three Hindu professors of any wrongdoing.
Despite the investigation report exonerating the Hindu professors, all have come under the attack of radical Islamists who tweeted in support of Maha Hasan Alshawi using the hashtag #justice4mahahasan.
Many others, including Subash Kak and Dr. Indu Viswanathan, found the whole complaint “bizarre,” “absurd,” “shocking,” “disturbing,” and “alarming.”
They took to Twitter to highlight there should be “no place for #Hinduphobia” in academia.
The majority of Maha Hasan Alshawi’s complaints were made against Jayanti and Chakrabarti, she also accused two employees with the Title IX office — Gary Sund and Kristi Clemens — as well as Associate Dean for the Sciences Daniel Rockmore and former Director of Institutional Diversity and Equity Antonio Ferrantino of all failing to properly investigate her claims against Li.
Investigators’ decision, released on the Dartmouth College website, is the final of two reports released this year.
Dartmouth College spokeswoman Diana Lawrence declined to comment to the media on the outcome apart from writing.
“This is the final report and the investigation is now closed.”
The report is from Maureen Holland and Peter Lim, of the Philadelphia law firm Cozen O’Connor, and who work with institutions dealing with allegations of sexual harassment and abuse.