Historian Truschke’s lecture cancelled after backlash

'A happy day for proponents of the Hindu Rashtra', says Truschke in Facebook post

Audrey Truschke. Image source: Faceboob/AudreyTruschke

The Hyderabad police have denied permission for US historian Audrey Truschke to deliver a lecture after a 'protest' from 'individuals'.

The lecture, scheduled for Aug. 11, was titled 'Unpopular Stories: Narrating the Indo-Islamic Past and Navigating Present-day Prejudices' and was organised by the Krishnakriti Foundation in association with History for Peace.

Truschke is a renowned medieval India historian and assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University-Newark and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. She has challenged the popular narrative of the Ramayana, which has led to a Twitter war with right-wing supporters.

A letter, signed by 68 intellectuals, academicians and experts, was submitted to the police in support of Truschke. However, she took to Facebook to announce the event's cancellation.

In a Facebook post, Truschke wrote, "Today is a sad day for the pursuit of knowledge and academic freedom, and it is a happy day for proponents of the Hindu Rashtra."

She wrote: "The organizers took this decision after being informed by the Hyderabad police that several individuals had written letters protesting my appearance. I saw only one such letter, and it was from an individual with self-admitted connections to the RSS, BJP and BJPM. (sic)"

The post continued: "I was especially looking forward to talking with Hyderabadis about Aurangzeb's brutal assaults on sultanates in the Deccan in the 1680s and debates concerning what brought about the end of Indian Buddhism in the early second millennium CE. I deeply regret that my presentation and the subsequent exchange of ideas will not occur."

An organiser of the event told the Deccan Chronicle that they were unable to find a secure location for the event in Hyderabad. "A cycle of discussion was held among various city-based culture and heritage enthusiasts, who offered to hold the event," the person said. "Unfortunately, people who were least involved in the event are gaining political mileage, the topic slated didn't scatter any controversy, Audrey was to talk about the Sanskrit language at Mughal court."

In April this year, Truschke faced an angry Twitter mob after she tweeted about the case filed against a cartoonist for a Ramayana cartoon that criticised India's right wing. Sharing a story on the issue, she tweeted, "There was a time when Dasaratha's sons could handle criticism from Sita. You should hear what she said to Rama during the agnipariksha, and her unseemly accusations against Lakshmana when he hesitated to go after Rama in the golden deer incident."

Right wing twitter handles tweeted that her claims were bogus and called her a fake scholar.

(Compiled by Jishnu EN)

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