Students, scholars and teachers from around the world have rallied to speak up against the Centre's action against the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University. After a virtual who's-who of world academia sent out solidarity letters, institutions including Oxford University and the University of Chicago have also sent in their support.
Universities from across California issued a letter signed by 358 academicians. In it, they condemned the harassment of students for their political beliefs. The letter called the police crackdown on the students an "alibi for the incursion of an authoritarian regime onto the university campus". It said that the whole fraternity is extremely concerned about the situation unfolding at JNU and refuse to remain silent as colleagues face such atrocities in the hand of the authorities.
They also urged the Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University to protect members of the university community and safeguard their rights. The letter was also signed by the Students for Justice in Palestine of University of California, Berkeley, South Asia Graduate Students’ Association, UCLA and The Undercommons at UCLA.
A letter was also issued by 52 teachers and students from across Chicago in which they "strongly condemn the arbitrary, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic actions of the BJP/RSS/ABVP/Delhi Police continuum at the JNU campus". The letter demanded an immediate end to all police action on campus and withdrawal of all frivolous charges against the President of JNU Students’ Union, Kanhaiya Kumar, and other students. The letter termed the actions by the Indian state a bid to stifle dissenting voices in the country, "especially on university campuses which have persistently resisted the capitalist, Brahmanical hegemony of the current government".
The University of Oxford's letter said, "We protest the use of institutional and state machinery to stifle dissent on campuses, and the attempt to persecute those whose views do not conform to the narrow narratives of ‘nationalism’, ‘nationhood’ and ‘Indian culture’ promoted and endorsed by the ruling party," and that the current sedition law "is fundamentally anachronistic to a democratic state". They demanded that the charges against Kanhaiya be dropped and the students be treated fairly and within the ambit of the law.
Indian universities including the IITs, Ashoka University and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, too, spoke up against the Centre's action. The TISS students drew parallels between Kumar's arrest and the suicide of University of Hyderabad Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, saying the front organisations of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had initiated the complaints in both cases.
The letter from Ashoka University said, "We believe that societies can only grow when they foster intellectual engagement with fundamental social questions and contemporary political issues through non-violent debate and argumentation." The students of the IITs wrote, "It is only from such an open exchange of ideas that our collective understanding can increase, and knowledge can advance."