On June 20, 2022, police arrested members of various student organizations and a member of parliament in apparent retaliation for their participation in a student-led protest against a recently released military recruitment plan.
The Students Federation of India (SFI) and Democratic Youth Federation of India (DFYI) led a demonstration against the so-called Agnipath plan, which they charged would limit opportunities for long-term employment in the military. Police arrested Rajya Sabha MP AA Rahim, a Member of Parliament affiliated with the Communist Party of India, and members of various student organizations, including the SFI and DFYI, on charges of “causing disturbance to law and order.” The students and Rahim were transported to three different police stations and reportedly denied food while in custody for 24 hours.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary detention and arrest of students and civil society members in an apparent effort to restrict or retaliate against their nonviolent exercise of the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of association – 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 the nonviolent and responsible exercise of such rights. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, detentions and arrests aimed at restricting students’ expressive activities 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)