On February 11, 2023, a police officer detained Miva Jolly – a first year student at Sree Sankara College and the Kerala Students Union (KSU) general secretary – and physically and verbally assaulted her. Police also reportedly dragged several other protesters.
Members of KSU, a student wing of the opposition Congress party, were protesting against the Kerala chief minister in Kochi, Kalamassery. Following a complaint made by Jolly, the Kochi police commissioner ordered an investigation into the incident.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force to detain students exercising their right to freedom of expression and association – 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. While state authorities have the right to implement reasonable laws and regulations to ensure order and protect state officials, they must also exercise restraint and refrain from actions that may result in unnecessary harm. 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)