On January 8, 2021, police reportedly arrested several students participating in a protest near the campus of the University of Hyderabad.
The students were protesting the building of a road that they said would cut through forest land owned by the University of Hyderabad, destroying biodiversity there. The protest began after authorities reportedly destroyed a compound wall near a separate institution, the Indian School of Business, in order to build the road, without giving the university notice of the project.
Police reportedly detained as many as 15 of the student protesters; as of this report, it is unclear what if any charges were brought against them, or when they were released from custody.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention of students peacefully exercising the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly — conduct that is expressly protected by international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a party. State authorities have an obligation to refrain from restricting or retaliating against expressive activities and assemblies so long as they are peaceful and responsible. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of bans on gatherings and detentions in response to peaceful student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.