Gurpreet Singh: Indian journalist who exposed residential-school-like system in her country to speak at UBC

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      Controversial and highly racist Indian residential schools may have been shut down Canada for more than two decades, but they continue to exist in the world’s so-called largest democracy.

      Journalist Neha Dixit filed an investigative report in 2016 revealing how Indigenous girls from northeastern states of India were taken far away from their families to indoctrinate them into Hindu supremacist ideology.

      Published by Outlook magazine, the story enraged supporters of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). 

      They not only lodged a police complaint against Dixit and others at the publication, but also attacked them on social media.

      Dixit will speak at an event called "Patterns of Political Violence: 35 Years Since 1984" at UBC's Centre for India and South Asia Research. It will take place between 1 and 6 p.m. in Room 120 of the C.K. Choi Building on Saturday (November 2). Anne Murphy, an associate professor in Department of Asian Studies, has been working hard to organize the event over the past several months.

      In addition to Dixit's talk, there will be screenings of two documentaries. When the Sun Didn’t Rise, by Teenaa Kaur Pasricha, focuses on the Sikh Genocide of 1984; Muzzafarnagar Baaqi Hai, by Nakul Singh Sawhney, deals with an anti-Muslim pogrom in northern India in 2013.

      Watch the trailer for the National Award–winning film When the Sun Didn't Rise.

      Dixit's investigation for Outlook revealed how different outfits affiliated with the Hindu supremacist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)—of which the BJP is a part—trafficked 31 tribal girls, including those as young as three.

      They were taken in the state of Assam and sent to distantly located states of Punjab and Gujarat, where special Hindu seminaries indoctrinated them into ultranationalist ideology. 

      The RSS desires to transform India into a unified Hindu theocracy. Attacks on non-Hindus have intensified under the BJP government, which came to power in 2014.   

      Video: Neha Dixit spoke in 2018 about how armies of trolls are threatening female journalists in India.

      Dixit discovered that these girls were taught the Hindi language and encouraged to become vegetarians in accordance with Hindu norms by giving up their tribal identity and customs.

      This idea is no different from a  government assimilationist policy adopted in Canada in the 19th century to have churches Christianize Indigenous children after taking them away from their families and putting them in residential schools.

      The RSS, too, has similar designs of assimilating various minority communities, including tribal people, Buddhists, and Sikhs.

      But the matter did not end there. Dixit noted that these tribal girls in the RSS-run schools were also brainwashed to become fanatics who hate religious minorities, such as Muslims and Christians.      

      Apart from reporting on the story of these tribal girls, Dixit has also covered the issue of extra-judicial murders of Muslim men by Indian police. Often, Muslims are branded as terrorists and then killed by law-enforcement officers in staged encounters in the BJP-run state of Uttar Pradesh in the name of "peace and security". 

      Gurpreet Singh and Neha Dixit
      Charlie Smith