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: April 17, 2016

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Jawaharlal Nehru University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:Ongoing Incident

On April 17, 2016, police arrested two men in connection to a plot to kill Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student activists Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid.  

Kumar and Khalid were both charged with sedition, in connection with their alleged participation in an on-campus protest on February 12, in which anti-India slogans were reportedly shouted.  The protest and subsequent student arrests sparked widespread media attention in India.  As of this report, the charges against the student-activists, including Kumar and Khalid, remain pending; Kumar and Khalid were released from custody on bail in March 2016.  

On April 17 a pistol and a letter, detailing the plot to kill Kumar and Khalid, were discovered in a bag on a bus bound for the JNU campus. Delhi police reportedly arrested two men in connection with the plot to kill the activists.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about threats of violence against student activists, in apparent retaliation for nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, and academic freedom – conduct which is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and institutional autonomy. State officials have a responsibility to ensure the security of higher education communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators accountable.


This is an update to earlier reports.  To view reports, please click here and here.