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: November 04, 2022

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances | Imprisonment | Prosecution

Institution(s):Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 4, 2022, police used water cannons against, and temporarily detained, at least 200 students at Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) who were peacefully protesting against an increase in bond fees in the state of Haryana.

Students began protesting the fee increase on November 1. On November 4, the students moved their protest from the PGIMS director’s office to an on-campus auditorium where Haryana State’s governor, chief minister and home minister were scheduled to attend an event the next day.

Police instructed the protesters to leave after they arrived at the auditorium. When they refused, the police forcibly dispersed them using water cannons, dragged students onto buses and transported them to police stations.

The police filed a complaint against the students under sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) of the Indian Penal Code.

According to reports, the students were released on the evening of Saturday, November 5.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the excessive use of force and detention in response to an on-campus protest. State and university authorities have an obligation to refrain from the use of force against students peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly – conduct that is 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. In addition to the immediate victims, the use of violence against nonviolent student protesters 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)