Petition launched to urge Harvard University to withdraw Jayant Sinha’s alumnus status for honouring murder convicts

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A Harvard University graduate has launched an online petition urging the reputed US university to withdraw the alumnus status of Union Minister Jayant Sinha for honouring the murder convicts in Indian state of Jharkhand.

Launching the online petition on change.org, Prateek Kanwal, himself a Harvard alumnus addressed Lawrence Bacow, the new president of the university, stating that he had been forced to write this letter, ‘to bring to your attention the infamy that one of our alumni, Mr. Jayant Sinha (Harvard Business School, 1992) has gained in India and the disrepute he has brought your university by his intemperate actions. (sic)’

The petition then went on to state, “India is at present struggling with a surge in mob related violence that has claimed many lives. In the last seven months, there have been over 70 mob attacks, where close to 33 people have been killed. These attacks, fueled by deliberate rumor mongering, are more often than not targeted at members of minority communities, Dalits, Tribals and Women to spread fear and to polarize the electorate for political gain.

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“One such case was the lynching of Mr. Alimuddin Ansari, on 29th June, 2017, in the state of Jharkhand in the east of India, on suspicion that he was carrying beef in his car. Eight men who were convicted in this case were recently released on bail, pending the disposal of their appeal against their conviction in a higher court. Mr. Sinha, who is at present a Minister in the Indian Government, in a show of solidarity with these convicts, was photographed honoring them with traditional Indian garlands and sweets.”

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Sinha, while attending a function organised by his party, the BJP, over the weekend, had garlanded the eight convicts, responsible for killing Alimuddin Ansari in June last year. Commentators, journalists and intellectuals had condemned Sinha for choosing to felicitate those, who’ve been convicted of killing an innocent man by a lower court of India’s judiciary.

What was even more shocking was Sinha’s educational background. Unlike many in the current government including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleague Smriti Irani, Sinha’s education qualifications are an envy to many. Aside from being being the son of former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, he has had the privilege of studying at some of the finest educational institutions in the world. The list of reputed educational institutions Sinha has studied in includes IIT Delhi and Harvard Business School. Before becoming a full-time politician, Sinha had also worked for McKinsey & Company for 12 long years.

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Faced with growing condemnation, Sinha had later issued a clarification, but his statement lacked any sense of remorse and had caused invited even more criticism from people.

 

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