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: December 09, 2019

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Banaras Hindu University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On December 9, 2019, a group of students reportedly attacked Banaras Hindu University (BHU) professor Shanti Lal Salvi in apparent retaliation for his support of the appointment of a Muslim scholar at the university.

On November 7, 2019, Feroze Khan was reportedly appointed as an assistant professor in the university’s Sanskrit Vidya Dharma Sankay department, leading to protests by students in the department, who claimed that a Muslim cannot teach Hindu religious texts. 

On December 9, Salvi was reportedly in a classroom when a group of students confronted him and shouted at him for supporting Sankay’s appointment. When Salvi fled the classroom, students reportedly threw rocks at him and some caught up with him and pushed him. 

Salvi reportedly filed a complaint with the BHU vice chancellor against the students and a colleague in the department who he alleges instigated them. 

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a targeted attack on a scholar in apparent retaliation for his nonviolent exercise of the right to freedom of expression and academic freedom. 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.