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: October 19, 2019

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):North Eastern Hill University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 9, 2019, a group of masked individuals reportedly targeted and attacked members of an indigenous student group on the campus of North Eastern Hill University (NEHU).

On the day of the attack, the newly formed NEHU branch of the Hynñiewtrep Youth Council (HYC) held elections for its branch officers. The HYC is a student organization dedicated to the rights of the Hynñiewtrep people, an indigenous group from the northeastern Indian State of Meghalaya.

Shortly after the election, about ten masked individuals armed with rods reportedly threatened a campus security guard and entered a student dormitory at NEHU. The group entered a dorm room, asked the people inside who was a member of the HYC, and proceeded to beat the student who confirmed his membership in the group. The attackers also reportedly hit the HYC member’s roommate with a rod.

While a First Information Report was submitted to the police regarding the attack, authorities have not publicly disclosed the identities of the perpetrators.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent attacks targeting students based on ethnicity or in apparent retaliation for their nonviolent exercise of the rights to free association. State and university authorities have a responsibility to prevent and respond to such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on campus undermine academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and democratic society generally.