On April 9, 2022, police arrested 52 students during a protest in front of a government building over alleged rape threats against Muslim women made during a speech by Bajrang Muni Das, a Hindu seer.
On April 2, in Khairabad, a Muslim majority town, Das delivered a speech, in which he threatened to rape a Muslim woman if a Muslim man were to tease a Hindu woman in that town. Starting on April 7, a video of Das’s remarks was posted on social media and widely circulated.
On April 9, members of the All India Students’ Association (AISA) and the Campus Front of India (CFI) organized a protest in front of the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan government building to call for Das’s arrest. Video footage posted on CFI’s Twitter account shows students holding posters condemning islamophobia, hate speech, and the police. Available sources suggest the protest was nonviolent. Police arrested 52 students participating in the protest.
Scholars at Risk is concerned by the arrest of students in an effort to restrict nonviolent student expression — 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 a responsibility to refrain from restricting nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Efforts to restrict students’ nonviolent 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)