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: April 16, 2021

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Kannur University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On April 16, 2021, police reportedly arrested members of the Kerala Students Union (KSU) during a protest over alleged irregularities in the hiring process of a position at Kannur University (KU).

KSU members allege that KU Vice Chancellor Gopinath Ravindran attempted to appoint Shahala Shamseer, whose spouse is A. N. Shamseer, a member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly and member of the Communist Party of India (CPI) (Marxist), to the Assistant Director of the Human Resource Development Center at KU. KSU members allege that the speedy appointment process and that Ravindran interviewed candidates at his home raised concern that he was attempting to hire relatives of CPI (Marxist) government officials.

KSU members staged a sit-in in front of Ravindran’s house. Police reportedly arrested a number of KSU members participating in the sit-in.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of students peacefully exercising their 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, detentions in response to peaceful student expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.

*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).​