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: March 25, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Dhaka University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Bangladesh

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 25, 2021, alleged members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of the ruling political party, attacked students protesting the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to mark Bangladesh’s fifty years of independence sparked country-wide protests. Many protesters accused him of stoking communal violence against Muslims in India. Clashes between police and protesters had left as many as 13 people dead, as of March 29.

Students at Dhaka University staged a protest on campus on March 25, the day before Prime Minister Modi was scheduled to arrive in the country. According to reports, alleged BCL members attacked the student protesters, who were marching on campus and planning to burn an effigy of Prime Minister Modi, with bricks and sticks. The attack led to clashes and running battles between the alleged BCL members and protesters.

At least 14 people, including students and several journalists covering the protest, were injured during the protest.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about a violent and apparently targeted attack on an on-campus student protest. State and university authorities should take reasonable steps to respond to and prevent such attacks, including by investigating and holding perpetrators accountable. Students and other members of society should also be reminded to refrain from using physical violence in response to expression with which they disagree. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, violent attacks on students undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.