On December 14, 2022, students from Visva Bharati University held a sit-in demonstration demanding the distribution of hostels and the resignation of the Vice-Chancellor.
According to a university spokesperson, the students pelted stones at university staff, including Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakraborty and Registrar Ashok Mahato, and security guards. The vice-chancellor sent a letter to the police requesting heightened security.
The students claimed that they did not pelt stones, and both sides alleged injuries by the other. The protesting camp was dismantled by the university security guards later that day.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence in the course of a student protest. While state authorities have the right to take reasonable measures to ensure order, they must also exercise restraint and refrain from disproportionate actions, actions that may result in unnecessary harm, and or actions which encroach on the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – 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. Likewise, while students have the right to publicly assemble and express themselves on and off campus, such actions must be conducted peacefully and responsibly. Violence in the course of an on-campus protest, coming from any source, 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)