Several Muslim cricket fans in Kashmir and India have been arrested and charged under sedition laws for celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in the T20 World Cup cricket match.
On October 25, Fancy Jan was told by somebody about the tensions unfolding in the Indian city of Agra. Worried about his brother, Showkat Ahmad Ganie, who is studying in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, she tried to call him.
She started to panic when she didn’t get any reply from his brother. Fortunately, not long after that his brother called and said that he was fine but he asked his family to restrain him from calling for some time due to the unfavourable situation in Agra.
The Indian cricket team lost to Pakistan in the T20 World Cup in the UAE ON 24 October. Not long after the game ended, three Kashmiri students were booked under seditions charges for allegedly posting WhatsApp statuses congratulating Pakistan’s team.
Showkat Ganie, 25, is one of the students suspended by the Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical College, where he studied.
Showkat was then held in judicial custody for 14 days along with two other students, Arshid Yusuf and Inayat Sheikh, for allegedly posting WhatsApp statuses celebrating Pakistan’s victory. The three were charged with article 66F of the information technology law relating to cyber terrorism, as well as articles 153 A, 505, and article 124A relating to enmity between groups.
Despite the college administration has stated that the students did not express pro-Pakistani slogans during the celebration of Pakistan’s victory, the media campaign still vilified them.
Several lawyers’ associations in Agra, including the Janpad Lawyers Association, the Agra Advocates Association, and the Young Lawyers Association have firmly rejected providing legal assistance to the students of sedition charges.
A video that went viral on social media even showed how much hatred was directed against them, as several lawyers were seen kicking and abusing them before they were then violently dragged into a police vehicle after a presentation in court.
Their families were immediately gripped with fear after seeing the video of how the students were being heckled. Few of them now fear for their security.
Posha Jan, 27, lamented while making a desperate plea for her brother to be released. Posha said their family was in financial difficulty and couldn’t do much to help her brother. Even meeting basic needs was very difficult, Posha said that they are so poor that they can’t even afford to visit him right now.
Showkat’s father, Shaban Ahmad Ganie, 65, working as a labourer has spent everything, land, gold, and property they have to send Showkat to study in the hope that he can end their poverty. Posha says the arrest has broken their hopes and they are now really desperate.
Mohammad Altaf Sheikh, the father of one of the arrested students, Ahmad Sheik, was upset by this arrest. he argues that his son did not commit any crime for only supporting the cricket team.
Arshid Yusuf’s mother, Haneefa, 45, who is a widow, pleaded with the authorities to forgive her son for what he had done.
On October 26, a staff member and two members of the Srinagar medical college in Kashmir were also arrested for the same reason. They were charged under draconian anti-terror laws even though the hospital’s fact-finding panel has confirmed that they were not part of Pakistan’s victory celebrations.
However, despite the intense police surveillance, mass arrests that took place everywhere, and the fear of being harassed and tortured, the residents still showed public support for the Pakistan cricket team.
This October when Home Minister Amit Shah visit Kashmir, a lot of residents took over the streets and shouted pro-Palestinian slogans to make a political statement.
In a tweet, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti expressed his condemnation of India’s crackdown. He said that the arrest of three Kashmiri students both inside and outside J&K is reprehensible. He also mentioned that the pseudo-patriotism of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) had abandoned the idea of India.
Another former Cabinet Minister, Ruhullah Mehdi, also criticized the actions of the police. He argues that the battle of narratives is not fought with UAPAs (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act).
Former BJP MP Vikram Randhawa from the Jammu region earlier called for violence against Kashmiri Muslims and all those who support Pakistan’s cricket team. In one video, Vikram even viciously said that they should be beaten and skinned alive.