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 23, 2016

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Aligarh Muslim University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 23, 2016, two individuals were reportedly killed during a violent altercation between rival student groups at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

A university official reported that, for some time prior to the incident, tensions had been escalating between the two student groups, who hailed two separate regions within the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.  On April 23, a group of approximately 25 students reportedly entered a residence hall looking for a postgraduate student, Mohsin Iqbal, and, after finding him, assaulted him and set fire to his room. As news of the incident spread on campus, the two rival groups reportedly clashed, exchanged gunfire, and set fire to university property. Mehtab Khan, who was expelled from AMU in 2015, and Mohd Waqif, an applicant to AMU, were reportedly shot and killed during the clashes; however, their role in the altercation, if any, remains unclear.

On April 29, authorities arrested law student Mohd Zoraiz in connection to the incident. Mr. Zoraiz, who has reportedly faced prior disciplinary actions related to campus violence, was suspended from the university on April 30 along with 11 other students suspected to have been involved, including Mohsin Iqbal. As of this report, authorities continue to search for the 11 additional suspects.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about reports of violence and destruction of property on campus. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, student violence undermines academic freedom and institutional autonomy. State and university authorities have a responsibility to ensure the security of the university space from intimidation and violence, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators of violent attacks accountable.