Webinar 4

Ideas Behind Bars

The Bhima Koregaon Case of Imprisoned Civic Activists and India's Autocratic Turn

Webinar Summary


This webinar shed light on alarming authoritarian developments in India that have scarcely received adequate international attention. It will critically examine the state’s strategies to target individuals and all forms of dissent to unpack the mechanisms of what has been described as India's autocratic turn. Through the lens of the Bhima Koregaon case that includes 16 people incarcerated since 2018 (the BK-16), we explored how apparently different strategies of suppression come together to destabilise democratic structures and constrict public discourse, freedom of speech and dissent. Our expert panellists provided much needed insights about the legal, technological, media and human rights dimensions of the case.

The webinar is part of InSAF India's campaign demanding the release of all jailed scholars, students and civic activists in India. 


If you are not familiar with the BK-16 case, we recommend watching the 5-minute video 'The Strange Case against the Bhima Koregaon Political Prisoners' released by The Polis Project for an excellent introduction to the case. 


Our panellists


Jed Crandall Associate Professor, Biodesign Center for Biocomputation, Security and Society and School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering, Arizona State University, USA


Suchitra Vijayan  Author of Midnight's Borders: A People's History of Modern India and Founder and Executive Director of The Polis Project


Tarunabh Khaitan Professor of Public Law and Legal Theory, and Vice Dean, Faculty of Law, Oxford University, UK

Hear the recording available on our YouTube channel.







This webinar is co-hosted by InSAF IndiaAmbedkar King Study Circle (California), India Civil Watch International, British Association for South Asian StudiesScholars At Risk, the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA), University of Amsterdam, The Forum on Education in Asia (UCL), and the SIU University Honors Program

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Previous webinars available as educational resources

The criminalisation of student activism and the idea of academic freedom in India

Why academics should be part of the farmers' protest in India

The criminalisation of anti-caste research and activism in India


Topics that will be covered in forthcoming webinars:

The scientific community’s Hindutva challenge

Academic freedom in higher education institutions in India

Academic freedom in primary and secondary education in India

Locking down academic freedom in Kashmir

The international reach of Hindutva: Hindu nationalist thought in academic institutions abroad

The international reach of Hindutva: Challenges of researching India and complicity of European knowledge

The saffronisation of archives

Adivasi rights and academic freedom