As academics and other concerned persons, we, the undersigned, are outraged at the manner in which discussions on the ongoing war against Palestine are being silenced on Indian campuses, and in the public sphere more broadly. We are issuing this statement to call upon university administrators and the government to respect our academic freedom. We would also like to remind every one of India’s own long history of anti-colonial struggle which has historically provided the lens through which the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, equality and human rights has been viewed in India.
We object to the way in which any discussion of the historical context of the occupation of Palestine and the barbaric Israeli assault on Gaza, along with the denial of food, fuel and water, since October 7th 2023, is being projected as support for the brutal terror attack on civilians in Israel by Hamas on October 7th.
We object to the Israeli ambassador’s interference with academic freedom on Indian campuses. This disrespects the competence of Indian scholars to analyze historical and political situations for themselves. Defending the right to life and dignity of Palestinians, or pointing out the links between Zionism and Hindutva as supremacist ideologies, is not equivalent to antisemitism.
We strongly condemn the hijacking of the Palestine issue to further Islamophobia within India. In all the attacks on campus events on Palestine, we see the Hindutva ecosystem at work – known Hindutva individuals who tweet against the faculty members concerned, groups which organize protests against them on campus, and a pliant media which engages in defamation of the academics as terror supporters.
We demand that the Indian government, as well as all political parties in power in different states stop criminalizing protests in solidarity with Palestine. The FIRs filed against students of Aligarh Muslim University, and detentions of youth and students in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Coimbatore are examples of this. Many Opposition parties have failed to show sufficient solidarity with the people of Palestine and have thus betrayed the history of India’s own freedom struggle.
We call upon University administration to uphold their statutory and constitutional obligations and respect the intelligence, competence and integrity of their own faculty and students, and their right to organize talks and invite speakers as pedagogical interventions.
Nandini Sundar, sociologist
Nivedita Menon, political scientist
Ravi Sundaram, media scholar
Rajshree Chandra, political scientist
Rohan D’Souza, historian
Pamela Philipose, journalist
Maya John, historian
Karen Gabriel, English literature
Achin Vanaik, political scientist
Apoorvanand, Hindi literature
Ayesha Kidwai, linguist
Atul Sood, regional development
Anita Rampal, educationist