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 28, 2022

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Various Institutions

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On November 28, 2022, police detained around 30 students of All Odisha Students’ Voice who attempted to protest outside the Odisha state chief minister’s residence.

Around 100 members of the student group were protesting for the resumption of student union elections, which have been paused state-wide since 2017. The group accused Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the dominant political party in Odisha, of blocking elections to increase the influence of their party on campuses.

Police stopped the group as they were marching towards the chief minister’s residence. Some students reportedly threw eggs at posters of the Minister of Higher Education and attempted to break a police barricade. Police detained around 30 of the students, taking them into “preventative custody.” It is unclear how long they were detained and if they were formally charged.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of students for exercising their right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – conduct that is expressly protected under 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 interfering in the peaceful exercise of the right to free expression and assembly. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, such incidents have a chilling effect on academic freedom, freedom of expression, and democratic society generally.

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