On March 8, 2021, student members of opposing political groups clashed during a protest against sexual violence at Delhi University (DU).
Student members of the Bhagat Singh Chhatra Ekta Manch (BSCEM), a left-wing political group, invited Nodeep Kaur, a labor rights activist, to speak at a protest against sexual violence on International Women’s Day. Family members of rape survivors from several prominent cases attended the protest. Some students reportedly held posters accusing the Indian army of such violence.
Before Kaur began speaking, student members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), a right-wing political group, attacked BSCEM students and tore their posters, alleging that the students did not have permission from the authorities to hold the protest. Photos of the protest depict ABVP students grabbing and slapping Kaur. ABVP students reportedly attacked BSCEM students. Police allegedly did not interfere to stop the attack, and some sources report that a few students were arrested from both groups.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent and apparently targeted attack on an on-campus student protest. Students and other members of society must refrain from using physical violence in response to expression with which they disagree. Likewise, state and university authorities should take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on students undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).