On March 30, 2022, student protesters were briefly detained inside police vehicles after gathering near the entrance of Mangalore University to protest a speech being given by Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, a controversial leader of the right wing, Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The students, members of the Campus Front of India (CFI), had urged university authorities to not allow Prabhakar Bhat to speak on campus as he had previously given controversial and provocative speeches. Security was increased in the area on the day of the event and police prevented the CFI students from entering campus. Therefore, they protested from the campus entrance, waving flags and shouting slogans. Police responded by loading the protesters into police vehicles. One video posted to social media shows police roughly yanking students out of the group and ushering them away; another video shows students continuing to shout from the police bus.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of students peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression – conduct which 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 taking action that restricts students’ expressive activity, so long as it is peaceful and responsible. In addition to harm to the immediate victims, the detention of student protesters for peaceful expressive activity undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.