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 25, 2019

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Delhi University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On August 25, unidentified individuals beat several student activists in a neighborhood bordering Delhi University.

Members of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI), a student organization affiliated with the Communist Party of India, were reportedly putting up posters in the Vijay Nagar neighborhood near Delhi University when a vehicle, allegedly displaying posters advertising the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a right-wing student organization and a rival of SFI, passed by. Shortly thereafter, another vehicle parked near the students. A number of men reportedly came out of that vehicle, demanded that the students stop putting up the posters, and further told them to withdraw a sexual harassment complaint that had been made against an ABVP leader. The students began taking down their posters, but the men began beating them, allegedly using a large stick attached with nails and cricket clubs.

Three of the students were severely injured in the attack, suffering arm fractures and a head injury.

One day after the attack, members of SFI and several other student organizations protested the attack and complained that the police did not quickly quickly or adequately respond to the attack. As of this report, there is no information publicly available regarding the police response.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent and apparently targeted attack on student activists. State and university authorities have a responsibility to protect peaceful student expression and to take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on students undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.