On September 12, 2018, a group of roughly one hundred armed men attacked students protesting at Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya (BCKV), in Nadia. Ten students were reportedly injured as a result of the attack.
The students had been participating in a class boycott and a sit-in since September 6. The sit-in was organized as part of a protest demanding the resignation of the Dean of Student Welfare and the Dean of Agriculture who allegedly requested police intervention at a September 5 protest.
According to students, the attackers broke through the main campus gate at night and began attacking the protesting students with iron rods, bamboo sticks, and cycle chains. At least two gunshots were reported during the attack. Some attackers also allegedly broke into the women’s residence and sexually assaulted female students. The students further report that they called the police and vice chancellor several times, seeking assistance, but received no immediate response. Police reportedly arrived to the scene later in the night. At least ten students were injured in the attack.
BCKV students and faculty claimed that the attack was led by a local leader of the Trinamul Congress Chatra Parishad, a student wing of a national political party, and demanded the resignation of the vice chancellor for his alleged failure to protect the students.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about a targeted, violent attack on students participating in peaceful on-campus expression. In addition to the physical harm to the immediate victims, such attacks undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and freedom of expression. State authorities have a responsibility to safeguard these values by taking reasonable steps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, including a responsibility to deter future attacks by investigating incidents and making every effort to hold perpetrators accountable, consistent with internationally recognized standards. Higher education leaders similarly have a responsibility to help safeguard the higher education space, by providing security to students and pressing demands to state authorities for greater protection and accountability, and by contributing to efforts to understand and reinforce principles of autonomy and academic freedom.