On January 7, 2020, students from opposing political groups reportedly clashed during a student protest over a violent attack on students and scholars at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
On January 5, a mob of roughly fifty masked men stormed JNU and violently attacked leftist students and professors, injuring at least thirty-four (see report). Students allege police and security guards did little to stop the attackers. Many suspect members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a right-wing student organization, of being behind the attack.
On January 7, the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) held a protest in front of the ABVP office to denounce the violent attack on JNU students and professors. ABVP members reportedly attacked the NSUI members with sticks, stones, and pipes. ABVP members likewise allege that NSUI members hit them with sticks. Police reportedly charged at the students with batons to disperse them. At least ten students were reportedly injured, including NSUI general secretary Nikhil Savani, who was hospitalized for serious head injuries.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence during a student protest. While students have a right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, they also have a responsibility to exercise these rights peacefully and responsibly. Violence, including the use of force and physically violent forms of expression, during a student protest undermines institutional autonomy and democratic society generally.