Lok Sabha Election 2024: Over 50 students, teachers arrested over past 5 years

Most belonged to the Muslim minority and were booked under UAPA for social media posts, threats, speeches, joining anti-CAA protests. Here’s a list.

Posts on repeating terrorist attacks, beating of children raising slogans or chanting also led to arrests of students and teachers. (Representative Image: HCUSU)Posts on repeating terrorist attacks, beating of children raising slogans or chanting also led to arrests of students and teachers. (Representative Image: HCUSU)

Sanjay | April 25, 2024 | 01:44 PM IST

NEW DELHI: At least 53 students and teachers have been arrested over the past five years of the Narendra Modi government – both by the Delhi Police, which is directly under the union home ministry, as well as state police forces in BJP-run states.

Whatsapp messages, Facebook and Instagram posts, participation in protests against government policies have led to the arrest of students and teachers across the country between 2019 and 2024. In some of the cases, they were either suspended or detained, while in some others, they were put behind bars with sedition or UAPA charges slapped against them.

The arrests were over and above the many cases of students and teachers being suspended from their positions, often for organising talks, speaking out against government policies or commenting on ongoing political issues. In states not ruled by the BJP, ideologically aligned local groups, such as factions of the Bajrang Dal and students’ group, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), surveilled students and teachers, filed complaints and pushed for arrests.

The latest suspension is of a Dalit PhD scholar Ramadas Prini Sivanandan from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, in April 2024. He has been suspended for two years over his allegedly ‘anti-national’ activism. Ramadas had received a show-cause notice for participating in the Parliament March in Delhi in January 2024.

The arrest of student leaders during protests, suspension, detention of students protesting against fee hike and resignation of faculties from premiere institutions in the past five years has led academics and students to complain of shrinking freedom in academic spaces. The Congress has seized this, promising in its manifesto, “Nyaya Patra”, to restore autonomy to institutions. The Congress manifesto says: “We will restore the autonomy of colleges and universities. Higher educational institutions will have academic freedom and will be encouraged to experiment, innovate and promote research. We will protect and preserve students’ freedom of speech and expression and the right to have elected student unions.”

That said, there were also arrests in cases of credible threats and violence, even corporal punishment. Posts on repeating terrorist attacks, beating of children raising slogans or chanting also led to arrests.

Here’s a list of students and teachers arrested – not simply detained or suspended – over the past five years.


Cricket World Cup events have been used as nationalism tests by rightwing groups leading to over a dozen arrests over the past years. Detention and arrest of Kashmiri students for their social media posts following cricket events has become so common that the Jammu and Kashmir Student Association felt compelled to caution students about exercising restraint and being careful about their reactions to the outcomes of cricket matches.

At least 10 students and a teacher were arrested for allegedly celebrating the Indian team’s losses in the T20 World Cup in 2021 and the ICC World Cup in 2023. Of these, one had written a threatening email to the Indian cricket team. They all were charged under sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) related to cybercrime, sedition and terrorism.

The Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested 19-year-old college student Braja Mohn Das for his emails to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in August 2019. Das, from Morigaon district, Assam, had allegedly threatened to kill the players of the Indian cricket team, then on tour in the West Indies.

The remaining arrests were all for social media posts.

Rajasthan Police arrested Udaipur school teacher Nafeesa Attari in October 2021 after she expressed joy in a social media post over Pakistan's victory against India in the ICC T20 World Cup match. She was granted bail.

The Congress was in power in Rajasthan then but relented to pressures from local rightwing politicians and groups. The complaint had been filed by local Bajrang Dal leader Rajendra Parmar.

On October 24, 2021, Pakistan for the first time beat India in a World Cup match with a 10-wicket win. Three Kashmiri students – Arsheed Yousuf, Inayat Altaf Sheikh and Showkat Ahmed Ganai – from Raja Balwant Singh Management Technical Campus, Agra, were arrested by Uttar Pradesh Police for allegedly cheering for Pakistan and raising “anti-India slogans”. They were arrested on October 28, 2021, and secured bail in March 2022.

Seven Kashmiri students of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Ganderbal, were arrested and charged under the Unlawful Activity Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly celebrating India's loss to Australia in the ICC Men’s World Cup 2023 final in November. Tawqeer Bhat, Mohsin Farooq Wani, Asif Gulzar War, Umer Nazir Dar, Syed Khalid Bukhari, Sameer Rashid Mir, and Ubaid Ahmad were arrested by Jammu and Kashmir Police, under the union home ministry. They were granted bail in December.

Pulwama attack

On February 14, 2019, a suicide bomber attacked a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy, killing 40 personnel in Pulwama’s Lethapora. In the aftermath, at least eight students, mostly belonging to Kashmir and studying in different states, were arrested on charges of sedition and under UAPA in 2019. However, comments and posts on the Pulwama attack continued to invite arrests even in 2024.

Immediately after the attack, over half a dozen students were arrested for social media posts and comments on the attack, the armed forces and terrorists.

February 16, 2019 alone saw half-a-dozen students getting arrested. Rajab Khan, a BA student at a private college in Lucknow was arrested by UP Police for allegedly making “derogatory statements” on the attack. The same day, Uttarakhand Police arrested a Kashmiri student from Dehradun for allegedly posting “insulting and provocative” comments against armed forces personnel. Three nursing students from Kashmir - Waquar Ahmat alias Harris Masoor, Gowhar Mustaq and Zakir Maqbol - were arrested in Bengaluru for posting allegedly anti-national messages on social media and criticising the Indian Army. Thahir Shazad Latif from Baramulla, studying engineering in Bengaluru, was arrested for his Facebook post in which he had stated, “I salute the man who killed these soldiers.”

On February 17, Faiz Rasheed, an engineering student in Bengaluru was arrested for allegedly celebrating the suicide bombing on Facebook. A special court awarded him five years of imprisonment in November 2022.

On February 18, three more Kashmiri students – Tahseen Gul, Pirzada Tabish and Aakib Usul – from Solan district were arrested for allegedly glorifying the terrorists involved.

These arrests were all made before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections that saw Narendra Modi win another term and before the withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status later that year.

But arrests related to the Pulwama attack continued well into the second term with the last in December 2023.

A Kashmiri student in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh was arrested for posting an “objectionable status” on WhatsApp in February 2022, the eve of the third anniversary of Pulwama attack. He was booked for sedition under the UAPA.

The Uttar Pradesh Police arrested Moahmmed Talha Mazhar, a Madrasa student, in December 2023 over a social media post allegedly threatening a repeat of the 2019 terror attack. He is from Jharkhand and was pursuing religious education at the madrassa in Deoband.

Also read Students and Sedition: As SC puts sedition law on hold, a look at cases against students

Terror charges

At least three students – two from Uttar Pradesh and one from Assam – were arrested for alleged links with terrorist organisations between 2019 and 2024.

Uttar Pradesh police arrested Aamas Ahmad and Abdul Samad Malik, former and current students, respectively, of the Aligarh Muslim University in January 2024, over terror charges. According to police, they, along with seven others, were allegedly preparing an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) module in AMU and recruiting others. Between November and December 2023, the police arrested seven people in the case. All nine were arrested as part of UP police’s crackdown against an “ISIS module of AMU” and “ISIS module of Aligarh”.

A fourth-year bioscience student at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati, Touseef Ali Farooqui, was also arrested under UAPA for alleged ISIS links in March 2024. He hails from Aligarh.

Ram Temple

On January 22, 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Ram temple in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya. At least three students were arrested for allegedly objectionable posts on social media against the consecration ceremony. Two students at a private university in Haryana were suspended for holding a talk against the temple inauguration event.

Sohrab Qayoom, a student, was in January 2024, expelled from Rajasthan’s Mewar University, Jaipur, over an Instagram post on Ram Mandir and Babri Masjid. An FIR was registered on January 25 for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and he was arrested. The 16th-century Babri Masjid was demolished by a Hindutva mob in 1992 and after a prolonged court battle, the Supreme Court awarded most of the land to Hindus in 2020.

Two students of the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) were arrested by Mumbai Police for allegedly posting a story on WhatsApp in protest against the celebration. They were arrested and later released on bail.

In February, OP Jindal Global University, Haryana, suspended two law students – Mukundan and Ramnit – for organising a public discussion on the topic ‘Ram Mandir: A farcical project of Hindutva fascism’. The university owned by industrialist and BJP member Naveen Jindal suspended the students till August. Jindal was in Congress until 2024.

Religious plays

Plays and chants led to suspensions and arrests. At least two teachers were suspended, three teachers and four students were arrested in such cases.

Two teachers – Mamata Gautam and Shweta Sharma – were suspended by Ghaziabad’s ABES Engineering College for asking a student to leave the stage for chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans at a cultural fest in October 2023.

Pune Police arrested Pravin Dattatraya Bhole, the department head of Savitribai Phule Pune University’s Centre for Performing Arts and five of its students for staging a play with allegedly objectionable depictions of Hindu deities Ram, Sita and Laxman. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad members disrupted the play in February 2024 and later filed a police complaint. Four students, Jay Pedanekar, Prathamesh Savant, Hrushikesh Dalvi and Yash Chikhale, were also arrested and all five accused got bail later.

Religious tensions have also led to other types of offences. In August 2023, Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested a lecturer of Government Higher Secondary School in Kathua district for beating a Class 10 student for writing ‘Jai Shree Ram’ on the blackboard of his classroom. In a similar incident, a teacher named Mohammad Abdul Wahid was arrested in January 2024 by Madhya Pradesh police for allegedly beating a Class 7 student for chanting Jai Shri Ram in the classroom in a school at Budhar town in the Shahdol district.

Anti-CAA protests

Clashes broke out when hundreds of Delhi police personnel entered Jamia Millia Islamia University in December, 2019, to break up a sit-in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, later Act, which was finally signed by the President on December 12, 2023.

A total of 11 student activists – Mohammad Qasim, Mahmood Anwar, Shahzar Raza Khan, Mohd. Abuzar, Mohd Shoaib, Umair Ahmad, Bilal Nadeem, Sharjeel Imam, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Chanda Yadav and Safoora Zargar – were arrested in December 2019. They got bail in February 2023 but in May, Delhi High Court set aside a trial court’s order discharging student activists in the case.

Also read Citizenship Amendment Act: Protests, police, punishment

Delhi Riots 2020

In February 2020, parts of Delhi’s northeast district witnessed clashes between groups in support of and opposed to the CAA. At least 53 people were killed and around 200 were injured in the riots. Delhi Police arrested at least seven student leaders as part of its investigation of Delhi riots conspiracy case.

Former Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student Umar Khalid was arrested under the UAPA in September 2020. He is still in jail with bail hearings constantly postponed. Apart from him, Jamia Millia Islamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar were also arrested. Zargar was granted bail on “humanitarian grounds” in June 2023 as she was five months pregnant at the time but she was later arrested in another case of violence at Jamia campus. Haider is also in prison.

Other students arrested in this case include Asif Iqbal Tanha, Gulfisha Fatima, Natasha Narwal, Devangana Kalita and Sharjeel Imam. Tanha, Narwhal and Kalita got bail in May 2023 after spending more than 2.5 years in jail. The rest are still inside.

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