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'Kashmiri students accused of sedition welcome in Pakistan'

By Snehesh Alex Philip
March 06, 2014 17:48 IST
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Pakistan on Thursday termed the slapping of sedition charges on nearly 60 Kashmiri students in Uttar Pradesh for cheering the Pakistani cricket team as "very unfortunate" and said its "heart" and educational institutions are always open if they wanted to pursue their studies in Islamabad.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said she knows that Kashmiris celebrated Pakistan's victory against India in the Asia Cup.

"We saw Indian media reports that there were all night celebrations and there were also reports that 67 Kashmiri students were expelled," she said at her weekly press briefing at the foreign office.

Stating that she does not have any way of corroborating that information, Aslam said, "If these Kashmiri students want to come and pursue their studies in Pakistan, our hearts and academic institutions are open to them".

Told about the UP police's move to slap sedition charges against them, a visibly surprised Aslam said, "For cheering a team in a cricket match? If this is sedition, it is very unfortunate".

Post briefing, foreign office officials and Pakistani journalists expressed their surprise at the move to charge the students with sedition.

The minimum punishment for a sedition offence in India is three years and the maximum is a life sentence. A group of Kashmiri students at a private university in Meerut were on Thursday booked for sedition after they allegedly cheered for the Pakistan team during the cricket match that India lost as district authorities stepped into the matter, ordering a magisterial inquiry.

Around 60 Kashmiri students at SwamiVivekanandaSubhartiUniversity in Meerut were expelled for three days from the hostel after they had allegedly supported the Pakistan cricket team against India in the Asia Cup match between the two sides on last Sunday.

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Snehesh Alex Philip in Islamabad
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