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 27, 2024

Attack Types: Loss of Position

Institution(s):Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On January 27, 2024, Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya (MGAHV) suspended five students for criticizing and protesting against the university’s new Vice Chancellor (VC), Bhimraya Metri.

The suspended students are Rajneesh Kumar Ambedkar, Rajesh Kumar Yadav, Niranjan Kumar Oberoi, Ram Chandra, and Vivek Mishra. On January 26, Rajneesh Kumar Ambedkar and Rajesh Kumar Yadav protested against the VC for raising the Indian flag during the campus Republic Day celebrations. The university called the police on the two students and police detained Ambedkar and Yadav for six hours before releasing them. Ambedkar and Yadav were suspended the day after for protesting. Ram Chandra was suspended because of a Facebook post he made about the VC’s appointment. It is unclear why MGAHV suspended Niranjan Kumar Oberoi and Vivek Mishra. In addition to suspending Mishra and Yadav, the university also evicted Mishra and barred Yadav from staying in a student hostel.

MGAHV informed all five students that they had been suspended for spreading misinformation about the VC on social media, and for spreading anarchy in doing so.

Following his suspension and eviction, Mishra filed a complaint against MGAHV at the local police station, and claimed that the university’s eviction had constituted “harassment and threat to life.” On February 28, 2024, the Bombay High Court heard the plea raised by Mishra and condemned the suspensions. Two justices who heard the case stated that MGAHV VC Metri is “passing orders against students in flagrant violation of the principles of natural justice.”

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the arbitrary suspensions and eviction of students in apparent retaliation for their peaceful expressive activity, conduct that 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, retaliation against peaceful expressive activity undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.