Police arrest Kashmiri students for celebrating India defeat in Cricket World Cup

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Seven Kashmiri students have been arrested and charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for allegedly celebrating Australia’s win over India in the Cricket World Cup final. 

The students, who are pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Science at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, were detained by police on November 19 (the night of the match) after a complaint by another student who claimed that he was abused and threatened by them for supporting India.

Earlier today an Indian court granted them bail.

The complainant, a 20-year-old student from outside Kashmir, also accused the Kashmiri students of “creating fear among the non-local students by chanting pro-Pakistan slogans.”

However, the complainant did not report the incident to any university authority but instead chose to go directly to the police who immediately took action and booked the students under the UAPA, which allows detention without trial for up to six months.

University officials confirmed the arrest of the students, but denied that any such incident took place.

According to the Dean of Students Welfare, Dr Mohammad Abubakar Ahmad Siddiqui, there was only a minor face-off between some students at the hostel of the Veterinary Sciences faculty, and no slogans were chanted on campus nor any threats issued.

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“The arrested are fourth-year Bachelor of Veterinary Science students,” said officials.

They added that they are communicating with the police and trying to resolve the matter.

However, in a statement the police defended their actions, saying: “It is not about dissent or freedom of expression. It is about terrorising others who may be nourishing pro-India feelings or anti-Pakistan feelings.”

Australia thrashed India by six wickets to win the Cricket World Cup, dashing India’s hopes of a third win after 1983 and 2011.

This is not the first time Kashmiri students have been charged in a case linked to cricket. In October 2021, police in Indian-occupied Kashmir filed criminal cases under the same UAPA law against some students of two medical colleges for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s victory against India in the Twenty20 World Cup. The charges were later dropped.

In another incident during the 2014 Asia Cup tournament, nearly 60 Kashmiri students were suspended by a college in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh after they allegedly celebrated Pakistan’s win over India.

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