Anti-terrorism charge against Kashmiri students who allegedly cheered for Pakistan after cricket match

·3-min read
Indian paramilitary soldier checks the bag of a Kashmiri man at a market in Indian administered Kashmir (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Indian paramilitary soldier checks the bag of a Kashmiri man at a market in Indian administered Kashmir (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Police in the federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir registered cases on Monday under a draconian anti-terrorism law against students of a medical college for allegedly celebrating the Pakistan team’s victory over India in a cricket match.

The students of Government Medical College (GMC) and Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences were booked under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, an anti-terrorism law meant for bolstering internal security but often used to throttle political dissent.

The hostel wardens and managers of the medical colleges were also booked by the Kashmir police.

Kashmir is at the heart of a decades-old dispute between India and Pakistan, where both countries claim the region as theirs, but control only parts of it. So far no student has been named in police complaint and no arrests have been made.

Muslims across India have been targeted by hardline Hindu groups after India suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Pakistan at their opening game of the T20 World Cup in Dubai.

The cases were registered after purported videos of students celebrating Pakistan's victory went viral on social media. The videos were criticised by right-wing groups who demanded action against the students, accusing them of being disloyal to India.

The complaint mentioned that "the students pursuing MBBS and other degrees raised slogans and burst firecrackers” and “were crying and dancing”, The Hindu reported.

Similarly, six persons in Kashmir's Samba district were detained after videos emerged of a group celebrating the neighbouring country's victory.

The clampdown came amid home minister Amit Shah's three-day visit to the Himalayan region, the first since the abrogation of Article 370, that awarded a semi-autonomous status to the region. In August 2019, the state of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two federal territories.

Slamming the police action, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said in a tweet: "Instead of trying to ascertain why educated youth choose to identify with Pakistan, GOI (government of India) resorting to vindictive actions. Such steps will alienate them further."

Moments after Pakistan's victory, several students from Kashmir were assaulted by other Indian students at an engineering college in Punjab. “They entered our room, switched off the lights and beat us. They destroyed our laptops,” a student told AFP requesting anonymity.

Indian Muslim player Mohammed Shami faced a vicious and bigoted attack on social media and was accused of throwing the match.

Trolls tagged the player and asked him to “go to Pakistan” — a common refrain used by Hindu extremists against Indian Muslims, accusing them of disloyalty.

A private school teacher in the western state of Rajasthan was fired and a case was registered after she posted a celebratory WhatsApp status after the match victory. Nafeesa Attari had allegedly posted a picture of Pakistani players with the caption in Hindi: "We won."

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