On April 17, 2023, police detained students affiliated with the Jharkhand State Student Union (JSSU) after they attempted to approach the state chief minister’s home as part of a protest. Police used force to detain students, injuring some.
The march to the chief minister’s house was part of a planned three-day action protesting a new employment policy for state government workers. The action was planned by JSSU, an umbrella organization of different student unions in Jharkhand State. For the first day of action on April 17th, JSSU organized a march to the chief minister’s house. In anticipation of the protests, the State police invoked Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure restricting processions, rallies, demonstrations, and gheraos within 200-meters of the chief minister’s residence and secretariat. After the student union went ahead with the march, police forcibly detained dozens of students, reportedly injuring some.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about the use of violence in the course of detaining nonviolent student protesters. 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, state authorities must allow students to peacefully exercise their 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. 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.