On July 27, 2018, Indian police reportedly detained and used violent force against four student activists from Allahabad University (AU), in apparent retaliation for their protest activities.
The students include Neha Yadav, Rama Yadav, Kishan Maurya, and Mohit Yadav, all members of the Samajwadi Chatra Sabha, a student wing of the Samajwadi Party.
On July 27, Amit Shah, chief of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), visited Allahabad to make preparations for an important upcoming religious event. The four students from AU reportedly hoped to deliver him a memorandum expressing concerns over a new university admissions policy based on caste and tribe as well as concerns over women’s safety.
As Shah was leaving the airport in Allahabad to attend the first stop in his visit, the students blocked his motorcade and protested by waving black flags, carrying placards, and chanting slogans. Police on the scene reportedly responded by using violent force against the students, beating them with batons, and dragging the female students by their hair into police vehicles. The students report that the police drove them around for at least four hours, stopping at deserted areas where they were threatened and beaten. Police then brought the students to Asha Jyoti Kendra, a state-run center for women in distress, where the students were detained overnight and allegedly mistreated.
The next morning, on July 28, the students appeared in court without legal counsel and were charged under Indian Penal Code Section 147 for rioting and disturbing peace. Authorities ordered the students to be held in judicial custody for 13 days; however they were released on bail on in judicial custody but were released on July 31.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about detentions and the use of violent force against students in apparent retaliation for peaceful expressive activity — conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party. State authorities have a responsibility to refrain from restricting or retaliating against peaceful student expression, and to ensure the security of higher education communities. In addition to the harm to the immediate victim, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom and institutional autonomy
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