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“We are begging govt to release our kin,” say families of Kashmiri students held for allegedly cheering for Pakistan

Families of Kashmiri engineering students from Central Kashmir appeal to the Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh government to release their kin on humanitarian grounds or their careers will be ruined. | Picture by Faisal Bashir

After cases were filed against Kashmiri students for allegedly cheering for Pakistan in different parts of the country, their families back home are in distress and have made fervent appeals to the government to release them.


Auqib Javeed | TwoCircles.net


SRINAGAR – After several Kashmir students were booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)—a law made to deal with terrorism, for allegedly celebrating the Pakistan cricket team’s win against India in a T20 World Cup match on October 24, the family of these students have appealed to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led government to release their kin.


The move has sparked outrage and anger across Kashmir. 


Students and their parents have appealed to the government “not to destroy the career of the students.” 


Soon after India lost the T20 cricket match to Pakistan, two purported videos of MBBS students, mostly female, showing them allegedly cheering went viral on social media sparking a debate with some denouncing them as traitors and others defending their right to celebrate the victory of their favourite team.


The students belong to the prestigious SKIMS hospital in Soura and Government Medical College (GMC) in Karan Nagar, Srinagar. 


A police official told TwoCircles.net that they have taken notice of two incidents, particularly the one at the SKIMS hostel and another at GMC hostel, Srinagar. 


“The investigation is going on, we are identifying the students through footage. The action will be taken under the law,” the official said. 


As per an FIR filed at Soura police station (under FIR No. 104/2021), “During the intervening night of 24 and 25 October 2021 after Pakistan won a T20 cricket match, students pursuing MBBS and other medical degrees residing in the ‘un-married’ hostel of SKIMS Soura raised slogans and burst firecrackers”.


It says that in this connection a case was registered under section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 105A and 505 IPC.


The police have also filed an FIR (under no. 71/2021) under section 13 of the UAPA at the police station Karan Nagar against the students residing at the GMC hostel, “who were crying and dancing last night evening after Pakistan won the World Cup T20 match against India”.


Similarly, on October 27, three Kashmiri students were arrested in Agra for allegedly sharing pro-Pakistan posts on WhatsApp after India lost the T20 World Cup match against Pakistan.


Three students namely Arsheed Yusuf, Inayat Altaf Sheikh and Showkat Ahmed Gilani, students of Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical College in Agra had earlier been suspended from college over the same posts. While Arsheed and Inayat are third-year Civil Engineering students, Showkat is a year senior to them.


On the next day, the trio were booked for sedition by Uttar Pradesh Police on the instructions of the Yogi Adityanath led government.


The students were arrested even after the college authorities gave them a clean chit in the allegations.


On Thursday, they were produced in a magistrate’s court in Agra, which remanded them in 14-day judicial custody.


“The FIR was initially registered under IPC Sections 153A (promoting enmity between groups) and 505 (creating or publishing content to promote enmity). Section 124A (sedition) of the IPC was included on Friday in the case,” a police official told The Wire. 


While coming out of the court, Hindu right-wing members were seen raising slogans against Pakistan and chasing the students. In the video, some lawyers were seen heckling the students outside the court when they were taken to a police vehicle. 


The action drew strong resentments from various political parties not only in Kashmir but also from various parts of the country.


Former Chief Minister of J&K, Omar Abdullah said the behaviour of lawyers in Agra towards three Kashmiri students, arrested for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s win over India at the T20 World Cup, was unacceptable and the role of police suspect.


“The behaviour of the lawyers is unacceptable & the role of the police is deeply suspect. With polls around the corner rather than make friends with Kashmiri students the powers that be are happier using them as political cannon fodder,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister wrote on Twitter.


Another political party, Peoples Conference (PC) on Friday criticised the knee jerk reaction of the UP government to invoke severe charges against the Kashmiri students in Agra, terming such measures a blatant violation of constitutional rights and an overreach.


Pertinently, the Supreme Court said earlier this year that it “is time to define the limits of sedition. The apex court had noted that “sections of the Indian Penal Code that deal with sedition require interpretation, particularly in the context of media freedom.”


In another instance, several Kashmiri students were also attacked at two educational institutions in Punjab after Pakistan beat India.


Students from Bhai Gurdas Institute of Engineering and Technology in Punjab’s Sangrur district shared videos of the “attack” from inside their hostel post the match. Similar reports also came in from the Rayat Bahrat University in Kharar.


Although, the issue was later resolved by the college authorities. 


However, back at home, the family members of the detained students are devastated by the news and have made a fervent appeal to LG Manoj Sinha to intervene and help them to release their kin.


On October 30, a family of a student staged a protest in Srinagar and demanded the immediate release of their son.


The family members of Showkat Ahmad Ganie from Bandipora assembled at Srinagar’s Press Enclave.


“We belong to a poor family and the government has helped our ward to study in an outside college,” the family said.


Shabir Ahmad Sheikh, uncle of Inayat Altaf Sheikh of Chadoora Budgam, who also has been arrested said that the family urges the UP government and LG to release their son on humanitarian grounds. Arshid’s father is a carpenter.


“We were informed by one of the college teachers about our son’s arrest. The teacher said ‘they are safe and the police have arrested them for some social media status’. We don’t have any knowledge about the charges slapped against them. We want our son to be safe and his early release,” he told a news agency.


“If my son had committed any mistake, he should be counselled and released. I am begging everyone for his release,” Hafeeza, mother of Shokwat, told reporters in Srinagar.


Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Students’ Association spokesperson Nasir Khuehami told TwoCircles.net that the Association has arranged lawyers to defend the three arrested students. 


“Our organisation is working for the welfare of Kashmiri students across India and have prepared a list of colleges outside J&K where Kashmiri students are studying and we have urged the UP government to drop sedition charges against these students on humanitarian grounds,” Khuehami added.

According to a PTI report, lawyers in Agra have decided to withhold legal assistance to the trio charged with sedition. However, Khuehami’s organisation has stepped in and arranged the council for the students.

“We have arranged a lawyer to defend all three arrested Kashmiri students” Khuehami tweeted.