On March 30, the Allahabad High Court granted bail to all three students who were booked for sedition. They are still behind bars as the families struggle to put together Rs 2 lakh each to furnish bonds.
Auqib Javeed | TwoCircles.net
JAMMU AND KASHMIR — Three Kashmiri students who were given bail by Allahabad High Court on March 30 in a case of sedition are yet to be released from prison as their families claim they “are struggling to put together the money to be paid as a surety deposit.”
The trio identified as Arsheed Yusuf, Inayat Altaf Sheikh and Showkat Ahmed Ganai were arrested three days after Pakistan beat India in a T20 World Cup match on October 24, 2021.
They were arrested on the basis of a complaint filed by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) youth wing leader.
The three students were pursuing engineering degrees at the Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical College (RBS) in Agra. Soon after the cricket match, the Agra police registered cases against them under Section 153-A (enmity between communities), 505-(1) (B) (intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) of the Indian Penal Code.
They were also charged under 66-F (cyber-terrorism) of the Information Technology Act for sending WhatsApp messages allegedly celebrating India’s cricket loss.
The Uttar Pradesh Police later added Section 124A (sedition) to the FIR after chief minister Adityanath said that those celebrating Pakistan’s victory will have to face sedition charges.
Five months later, the Allahabad High Court granted bail to all the three students on March 30. However, they are still behind bars as the families struggle to put together Rs 2 lakh each to furnish bonds.
Talking to TwoCircles.net, Shaaban, the father of Showkat said that he had to sell his land, cow and a goat to arrange the money to get his son released.
“We had to pay over three lakh to the lawyers and then we had to arrange people for Zamanat/vouch for the giver and pay from around ten thousand each,” Shaaban said.
He said that they had to spend over five lakh on each child so far. Shaaban is a labourer who had worked hard to send his son to an engineering degree.
“I had to sell everything,” he added.
Mohammad Yaseen, uncle of Inayat told TwoCircles.net that they had to borrow money from their friends and relatives to be paid as a surety deposit.
Inayat lost his father a decade ago. His uncle, a local shopkeeper, had to shut his business to get his nephew out of bars.
Since last week, Yaseen has been running from pillar to post to get Inayat released.
“Now we have somehow arranged the money and have submitted the file. The court will go for verification now and the lawyers say it might take a week,” Yaseen said.
While granting the bail, the court said that the applicants did not raise anti-India and pro-Pakistan slogans. “The applicants are responsible Indian citizens who hail from the State of Jammu and Kashmir which is the very embodiment of Indian values,” the order stated.
It added that it was the duty of the state to enable conditions for visiting scholars to live as per values prescribed in the Constitution.
“Students travelling freely to different parts of the country in the quest for knowledge is the true celebration of India’s diversity and a vivid manifestation of India’s unity,” the court said in the order. “It is also the obligation of the young scholars to imbibe and adhere to such values.
The court said that the trial in the case was moving slowly and could result in the indefinite detention of the students.
“Learned counsel for the applicants contends that the applicants do not have any criminal history apart from the instant case,” the order stated.
Earlier, the students had faced a hostile crowd outside the court in Agra where they were heckled, and lawyers in the city refused to represent them. Finally, a lawyer from the neighbouring district of Mathura took their cases and later on two more lawyers joined him to represent the students.
Auqib Javeed is a journalist based in Kashmir. He tweets at @AuqibJaveed