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: August 09, 2017

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances


Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 9, 2017, Kanhaiya Kumar, a prominent student union leader, was physically attacked during a multi-day rally organized by two left-wing organizations: All India Student (AISF) Federation and All India Youth Federation (AIYF).

Kumar, the former head of the Jawarhalal Nehru Student Union and a prominent activist, has previously been charged with sedition in connection with non-violent expression (see report). He was later targeted in a murder plot, apparently in retaliation for his activism (see report). 

In August 2017, Mr. Kumar was in Hoogly, West Bengal as part of a multi-city “Long March” aimed at empowering citizens to generate social change, organized by the All India Student Federation (AISF) and All India Youth Federation (AIYF). On August 9, a group of nearly 100 people reportedly affiliated with right wing groups staged a demonstration against him, accusing him of terrorism and of being “anti-national.” 23 of the protesters were arrested for throwing stones at Mr. Kumar and other violent or disruptive activities during the rally. After he left the rally, Mr. Kumar was again attached, as the car he was traveling in was hit with a stone, and the windshield was cracked.  

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent attack on student activists, in apparent retaliation  for nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such attacks threaten academic freedom and democratic society generally. State and university authorities have a responsibility to prevent violence on campus, and to investigate and hold accountable perpetrators of such attacks.