New Delhi: Violence and academic penalties against student expression are prevalent in India and many such incidents seemingly stemmed from an authoritarian environment related to Hindu nationalism, a report released today by the Scholars at Risk (SAR) network found.
SAR is an international organisation that works to protect scholars and promote academic freedom.
Every year since 2015, it has published reports on trends in attacks on academic freedom around the world titled ‘Free to Think’.
Its 2023 edition of ‘Free to Think’ – which analysed 409 attacks on higher education in 66 countries and territories between July 2022 and June 2023 – found that such attacks are a global problem and occur in diverse ways.
India is a group of 16 countries from which SAR profiled concerning cases in more detail.
Among the “most notable violations of student expression” SAR noted in India during the reporting period was the action taken against students who tried to watch the BBC’s documentary India: The Modi Question.
The documentary is critical of Narendra Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujarat riots as chief minister of that state.
The Indian government called the documentary “hostile propaganda and anti-India garbage” and directed YouTube and Twitter to take down links leading to it.
SAR noted that the police detained Delhi University (DU) and Jamia Millia Islamia students in January for trying to publicly screen the documentary.
It also noted that students from DU as well as other universities were punished or threatened for planning or trying to watch the -documentary – in one case, DU students were detained by police for protesting the suspension of a fellow student.
Another incident from DU’s track record that made it to SAR’s report was when police detained students protesting against the alleged harassment of their classmates at the Indraprastha College for Women during their annual fest.
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