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: March 12, 2024

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Gangadhar Meher University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | India

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 12, 2024, students affiliated with the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) interrupted an on-campus lecture at Gangadhar Meher University (GMU) by Nivedita Menon–a professor in political theory at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), author, and advocate for gender equality and social justice–forcing her to leave the stage, and end the event early.

The talk, titled “Feminisms for the 21st century,” was scheduled to celebrate International Women’s day. Fifteen minutes into Menon’s lecture, ABVP members began shouting slogans, such as “Bharat Mata ki Jai” (“Long live mother India”), “Nivedita Menon Go Back” and “anti-national.” According to Menon, she had spoken for just about 15 minutes before the disruption, which lasted for about 30 minutes.”

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the forcible disruption of a campus event due to protesters’ disagreements with the speakers’ views. While the right of on-campus protesters to publicly express such disagreement must be protected, that right does not include the freedom to prevent others from speaking, or audiences on campus from receiving their messages. Rather, such expression must be conducted in a manner that is responsible and consistent with academic freedom and related university values. Forcible disruption of campus expression undermines academic freedom and democratic society generally.

Sources:
https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2024/Mar/13/jnu-professor-forced-to-leave-podium-amid-protests-at-gmu
https://thewire.in/rights/jnu-teachers-association-condemns-right-wing-disruption-of-nivedita-menon-talk-in-odisha
https://twitter.com/kirankgrewal/status/1770350647914737984
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/jnu-teachers-association-condemns-disruption-of-nivedita-menons-lectures-at-gangadhar-meher-and-sambalpur-university/articleshow/108598555.cms