Haryana CM asks LSE to ensure safety of Karan Kataria who was expelled from student body polls

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has expressed concern over the wellbeing of London School of Economics (LSE) student Karan Kataria, who recently claimed he was wrongfully disqualified from the students’ union elections.

Khattar wrote a letter to LSE’s Deputy to President and Vice Chancellor Eric Neumayer Wednesday, informing him about the mental distress that the Haryana boy’s mother was going through.

Khattar said: “I have been informed that Mr Kataria was disqualified from elections to the post of General Secretary of the London School of Economics Students’ Union. I have been informed that this disqualification was not substantiated with reasons and was instead due to discrimination on account of race and belief. I could sense that his mother was in severe mental distress when his (Karan’s) mother and sister came to meet me.”

A postgraduate student of Law at LSE, Kataria has claimed that his expulsion from the students’ polls was due to an “anti-India rhetoric” and “Hinduphobia”.

While 22-year-old Kataria’s allegations have triggered an outpouring of support from the Hindu diaspora, the LSE union has maintained he was disqualified because he broke election rules.

In his letter, a copy of which is with ThePrint, the chief minister wrote that the “brilliant student” was feeling unsafe in the LSE campus.

“Due to the recent incidents, he has been feeling unsafe within the institute campus. In such a situation, it is necessary that the administration steps in and takes care of his safety and wellbeing,” the BJP leader wrote.

He further said that every student needed a safe, secure and intellectually-challenging environment free from discrimination and that it was every institute’s duty to provide such an environment to a student.

Khattar requested Neumayer, also the School’s Vice President and Pro-Vice Chancellor (Planning and Resources), to look into the matter, and “protect” Kataria from discrimination on account of his beliefs and race.

A senior officer in the chief minister’s office – who did not wish to be named – said Kataria’s family had expressed concerns over the student’s safety during their meet with Khattar.

ThePrint tried to contact Kataria over phone and WhatsApp but did not receive a response. The story will be updated once he comments.

In a tweet this week, Kataria claimed he had been subjected to “personal, vicious, and targeted attacks”, and called the LSE students’ union (LSESU) “xenophobic” and “biased”.

“Unfortunately, some individuals could not bear to see an Indian-Hindu leading the LSESU and resorted to vilifying my character and very identity in what was clearly in line with the alarming cancel culture which is uprooting our social communities,” he tweeted.

Indian-origin LSE students on campus, who spoke to ThePrint, said Kataria faced accusations of being “Islamophobic, homophobic and a Hindu nationalist” when he was campaigning for the elections.

The student from Haryana was running for the post of general secretary before he was disqualified.

LSESU, in an official response, said the candidate was disqualified because he breached a rule pertaining to maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from voters.

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