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: January 11, 2024

Attack Types: Imprisonment

Institution(s):Periyar University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 11, 2024, police temporarily detained around 150 peaceful student protesters during a visit by Tamil Nadu state governor R.N. Ravi to Periyar University.

The governor was visiting the university to meet with senior administrators, including vice-chancellor R Jagannathan, who was accused of corruption in December 2023. In response, the Federation of Students Organization-Tamil Nadu (FSOT) organized a ‘black flag’ protest to condemn the meeting.

The morning of the visit, hundreds of students gathered to protest. Police detained at least 150 students in a nearby banquet hall in advance of the governor’s arrival to campus. The students were released in the afternoon.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the detention of students for peacefully exercising 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. While state authorities have a responsibility to maintain safety and order, they also have an obligation to refrain from restricting nonviolent expressive activity. In addition to the harm to the immediate victims, detentions aimed at restricting students’ freedom of expression and assembly undermine academic freedom and democratic society generally.

Sources:
*SAR identified this incident in data made publicly available by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)
https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ahead-of-tn-governor-ravi-visit-police-conduct-searches-at-periyar-university-in-salem/article67729473.ece
https://www.thenewsminute.com/tamil-nadu/tn-governor-rn-ravi-meets-corruption-accused-periyar-uni-vc-amid-protests
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/governor-rn-ravi-visits-periyar-university-in-salem-amidst-protests/articleshow/106725716.cms