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Join Us in Protesting Right-Wing Attacks on Jawaharlal Nehru University

Updated: Jan 14

To: Narendra Modi

Prime Minister of India


We, the undersigned, are writing to express our deep concern and shock at the unfolding of events at JNU. On January 9, 2020, we learned that the Delhi Police detained students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) who were marching against the violence on the university campus. As we reported on January 5, 2019, dozens of masked men wielding sticks and iron rods attacked students and professors. At least 40 students and staff were admitted to hospital with injuries.

Hindu Raksha Dal, a far-right group, has claimed responsibility for the brutal assault. This admission comes at a time when a video, which has now gone viral, shows ABVP’s Delhi Joint Secretary, Anima Sonkar, admitting on television that the two armed men seen in videos carrying rods on the JNU campus are from the RSS linked student union. Tomar, popularly known as Pinki Bhaiya, said he and his right-wing group take full responsibility for the attack.

Activists and students shout slogans as they participate in a protest against the alleged violence on JNU students Sunday evening, during a rally from Hutatma Chowk to Gateway of India, in Mumbai, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. (PTI photo)

The protesters were demanding the removal of JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar following the alleged inaction during the January 5th violence. The police resorted to a baton charge to control the mob who tried to block the traffic. Using loudspeakers, the police appealed to the crowd to maintain peace. At least one protester was reported injured in the march.

Mr. Prime Minister, we believe that the current mistreatment of peaceful protestors and prevailing climate of fear is detrimental to the free academic exchange and the outstanding academic contributions that JNU scholars have made to various fields in the past.

We call on you today to protect the legal rights of students, faculty, and staff and to preserve the academic freedom and freedom of speech that has ensured JNU’s place among the foremost institutions of higher learning in India and abroad.

Politically motivated interference in the affairs of the campus and its academic and deliberative activities undermine the very basis of JNU’s internationally recognized excellence.

Please join Endangered Scholars Worldwide in condemning the brutal attacks on JNU students. Recently, there has been a rise in such extremist violence in India, including a series of attacks on bloggers and intellectuals who have been critical of the government. Students, professors, and academics have been increasingly targeted in violent attacks—an unacceptable trend that hurts the future of societies at large. Universities, as symbols of freedom, empowerment, and peace are attacked for the values they promote, values that stand in strong contrast with the extremist ideology now dominant in India.


Find the PDF Version of the Letter Here.


Narendra Modi

Prime Minister of India


Fax:+ 91 11 2301 685

Shri D. Murugesan

Chief Justice of India


Michelle Bachelet

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Email: InfoDesk@ohchr.org

Dr. Koumbou Boly Barry

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Email: sreducation@ohchr.org

David Kaye

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10


Fax: +41 22 917 9006

Email: freedex@ohchr.org

Josep Borrell

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

European Commission

Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200

1049 Brussels


Marija Pejčinović Burić

Secretary General of the Council of Europe Council of Europe

Avenue de l'Europe

F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex


Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 99

Christophe Poirel

Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law Council of Europe

Avenue de l'Europe

F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex


Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 99