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: January 16, 2019

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Various Institutions

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 16, 2019, authorities reportedly detained hundreds of academic personnel during a peaceful protest.

At 11:00 am, roughly two thousand junior and senior research scholars and members of the All India Research Scholars Association from various institutions across India gathered in front of the Ministry of Human Resource Development for a protest demanding an increase in research scholars’ stipends. The protesters had reportedly announced plans to start a mass hunger strike until the government met the demand. At approximately 4:00 pm, police on the scene reportedly detained the protesters en masse and transported them by bus to two police stations. Estimates of the number of protesters arrested range from eight hundred to two thousand. Information regarding their release and whether they face any charges is unavailable as of this report.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of academic personnel engaged in the nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — 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 an obligation to refrain from the use of arbitrary detentions to restrict the exercise of such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such actions undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.

UPDATE: One source has reported to SAR that, by January 17, 2019, the detained scholars were released without charge.