The filing of sedition charges against 67 Kashmiri students by Uttar Pradesh police -- which were subsequently dropped -- has evoked a strong reaction across the political and social spectrum in the Valley.
The students of the Swami Vivekanand Subharti University in Meerut were booked for allegedly celebrating the victory of the Pakistan cricket team over India in the Asia Cup on Sunday.
But the students in the eye of the storm, who have since returned to Kashmir, claimed they were only cheering for cricketers who were playing better.
“The students in the hostel were cheering when the Indian team seemed poised to win the match. However, when Pakistan all-rounder Shahid Afridi hit consecutive sixes and the Pakistan team won, some of the Kashmiri students reacted by cheering Pakistan’s victory. The other students indulged in slogans and started hurling abuses at us. Some of the Kashmiri students were also roughed up,” said Aijaz Ahmad, a student.
“Next day, we were packed into two buses and sent to Delhi. We had no money for travel. With some difficulty, we managed to reach the Valley,” he said.
“The University authorities should also have taken action against other students who indulged in hooliganism but no action was taken against them,” he added.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had earlier spoken out against the Uttar Pradesh government’s “harsh” decision to slap charges of sedition against the Kashmiri students.
Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene.
Mufti had warned Dr Singh “The entire Kashmiri student community can become vulnerable and their sense of insecurity will increase. Cheering for any sports team is the normal expression of sportsman sprit and it should not be criminalised”.
The Coaching Centres Association of Kashmir termed it “an unfortunate event that runs the risk of alienating an entire generation of Kashmiris”.
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