Free Speech Under Threat: Amnesty International on Ramjas Protest
“Recent events at Ramjas college in Delhi illustrate the growing threat to freedom of expression,” the NGO said.
Amnesty International, a human rights NGO, released a statement commenting on the violent protests that took place between the student protesters, outside Ramjas, on Wednesday.
In its official statement, Amnesty International said:
Recent events at Ramjas college in Delhi illustrate the growing threat to freedom of expression on Indian university campuses, said Amnesty International India today.
Several people were injured in clashes between student groups in Ramjas college, Delhi on Wednesday. Three journalists told Amnesty International India they had been assaulted by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
On Tuesday, a seminar on ‘Cultures of Protest’ organised at the college was cancelled after members of the ABVP obstructed the event.
“Universities are supposed to be safe spaces for debate and discussion. But the events at Ramjas College are a shameful reminder of how intimidation and threats continue to restrict free speech on university campuses,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director at Amnesty International India.
“Authorities need to protect academic freedom, which is crucial to the right to education. The Delhi police must ensure that students at universities can express their opinions without fear of repression by anyone.”
A group of students had planned a march from Ramjas college to Maurice Nagar police station to protest against the assault of students and teachers by members of ABVP, on Tuesday, over the issue of inviting JNU student Umar Khalid for a conference. However, the protest turned violent with student protesters alleging police inaction while ABVP members launched attacks.
Abha Dev, member of DU Teachers' Association, claimed that besides "several students", three teachers of different DU colleges – Prasanta Chakraborty (English), Suvrita (History) and Mousumi Bose (Philosphy) – were injured in the clashes and taken to Hindu Rao hospital.
College Principal Rajender Prasad said he is in discussion with the teachers who had organised the event and requested both the groups to not disrupt the peace and harmony in the college.
Prasad on Tuesday had claimed that though the college advocates freedom of speech, the decision was taken keeping the situation in mind.
(With inputs from PTI)
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