Hindu groups who oppose caste-hate legislation accuse Cambridge professor of caste-hate

27th July 2020   •   opinion
by Sunny Hundal
Twitter @sunny_hundal.
Credit: BBC Newsnight
A number of British Hindu organisations have signed a letter accusing the Cambridge professor Dr Priyamvada Gopal of "caste hatred" over her recent tweets.

Oddly, some of the same organisations have in the past strongly campaigned against any legislation that made caste discrimination illegal.

So we asked them about it.

The background

On 24th June, Dr Priyamvada Gopal, published a tweet saying:

"I'm from a Brahmin family. That makes me a Brahmin. I will say this too then, since Brahmins are the whites of India. Brahmin lives don't matter.

-- not as *Brahmin& lives. Abolish Brahmins and the upper castes."

That was followed by another one:

"For those at the back: I'm a Brahmin. My Brahmin life does not matter/ Abolish Brahmin-ness."

That has prompted this backlash.

A letter sent to Barfi Culture said (excerpt):

"These tweets are arguably motivated by hatred of Brahmins and other upper castes, and those from a Hindu background more generally, they are demeaning towards those deemed Brahmins, upper castes and Hindus, they lower people deemed to belong to these categories in the eyes of other persons, and they encourage discrimination, hate, harassment and hate crimes against people identified as such."

The signatories said they had posted the letter to Cambridge University, Cambridgeshire Constabulary, the Office for Students, and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, asking for details about action they have taken or will take in response. The letter came from Dharma Sewa Purvapaksha, an organisation registered in Rugby, and was also signed by the Anti Caste Legislation Committee (Leicester) and British Hindu Voice (Leicester) and Federation of Hindu Priest (UK).

But some of these organisations have strongly campaigned against the Labour party, singling out its attempts to outlaw discrimination on the basis of caste. Mr Mukesh Naker from the DSP openly campaigned on behalf of Conservative candidates during the 2015 and 2019 elections. He specifically singled out Labour's plans to outlaw caste discrimination.

So we asked him about that.

He sent us this reply:

Dear Sunny,

You are right in picking up the irony. Just as those allegedly fighting racism use racism, the tweets by Prof Gopal show that those like her who supported the caste legislation are trapped in the framework that they complain of. The ACLC opposed not merely the legislation but also the case law on caste. But are those supporting a law on caste discrimination prepared to stand by what they advocated?"


But surely this goes both ways? Can those opposing any law outlawing discrimination or hate over caste now have the right to claim it's a real problem?

No doubt readers can make up their own minds.
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Sunny Hundal has been a journalist and commentator since 2004. He is editor-in-chief of Barfi Culture
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