On December 16, 2019, Delhi University (DU) students were physically attacked as they protested recent, violent police crackdowns on campus expression.
In recent weeks, university students protesting a controversial citizenship bill have faced intense responses by police, including violence and arrest. On December 15, for example, police detained at least fifty students protesting on the campus of Jamia Millia Islamia University (JMI), and used force against dozens more, leaving more than fifty students hospitalized.
On December 16, in response to the violence and the citizenship bill, DU students held a protest on campus. About three hundred students participated in the initially peaceful protest. Members of the ABVP, a right-wing student organization and the student wing of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, reportedly attacked the students by throwing rocks, beating students, and hitting students with sticks. Students told media outlets that police did little to stop the attacks from the ABVP members.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violent, targeted attacks on students in apparent retaliation for their nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of association and expression. 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.