On April 17, 2023, police used water cannons on members of the Kerala Students Union, the student wing of the Indian National Congress, who were protesting in front of the Account General’s (AG) office in Thiruvananthapuram city.
The students were protesting against the alleged “saffronisation” of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks. Saffronisation refers to policies that implement a Hindu nationalist agenda. According to reports, the students attempted to break through a police barricade outside of the AG’s office. Police then fired water cannons at the protesters.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of force against student protesters for exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression – 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. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, the use of force to restrict or deter nonviolent student expression 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)