SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 15, 2013

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment

Institution(s):Lovely Professional University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 15 2013, twenty students from the Democratic Republic of Congo and one student from Angola were arrested in Jalandhar, a city in northern India with a large African student population (500-600 students, according to one report).
At the time of the incident the students were enrolled at the Lovely Professional University, a private institution in the same town. While accounts of the incident vary, some reports suggest that a group of Indian youths driving around Jalandhar accosted a Congolese student and then proceeded to attack him with cricket bats before several other Congolese students intervened to assist the victim. Witnesses said that some of the Indian youths directed racial slurs at the African students.
When police arrived, they reportedly arrested the 21 African students, but did not detain any of the Indian youths allegedly involved in the altercation. Police sources claim instead that the students were arrested after becoming violent when police asked for their identification in connection with an investigation into a luggage theft in the area.
The students were held on charges of theft and violence and remained in custody until June 20, when a diplomatic intervention by DRC authorities secured their release on bail. According to representatives of the students, they were beaten and mistreated in detention. The Congolese Embassy in India reportedly told media it considered its nationals victims of a racist attack.
Following the release of the students, Indian authorities allegedly stated that all charges against the students would be dropped and apologized for the way the police had handled the incident. 
Scholars at Risk is concerned about reports of racial and ethnic violence against students, and allegations of wrongful imprisonment by state authorities. State authorities have a responsibility to protect students from physical assault and to ensure that the perpetrators of violent attacks are held accountable. State officials also have an obligation not to arrest or prosecute students arbitrarily. Arbitrary arrest and prosecution of students undermines the higher education sector and democratic society generally.