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J&K: Medical Students Face Terror Laws for Supporting Pakistan in T20 cricket

Pakistan’s cricket team won the match. This led to a celebration amongst many cricket fans there, who the authorities believe to have violated ‘sentiments’.
J&K: Medical Students face Terror Laws for Supporting Pakistan in T20 cricket

Image Courtesy: Kashmir Reader

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir police has registered cases against staff members and students of two medical colleges in Srinagar after videos surfaced on social media purportedly showing many cheering for the Pakistan cricket team in the recently held cricket match between the two neighbours.

Rivals India and Pakistan played each other on Sunday in the ongoing ICC World T-20 tournament in Dubai. Pakistan’s team, traditionally favoured in Kashmir, won the match. This led to a celebration amongst many cricket fans there, who the authorities believe to have violated ‘sentiments’.

Several such videos are believed to have raised concerns amongst the UT administration, following which an investigation was launched. Celebration of Pakistan’s win evoked criticism from various netizens including senior police officials who termed the act as something against morality.

According to reports, FIRs have been registered against staff members and students of the Government Medical College (GMC) and Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), but no arrests have been made so far. The number of students named in the cases is yet unclear. The invocation of serious laws under Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has triggered sharp criticism amongst the political leadership of the region.

In a college in Punjab many Kashmiri students reported that, after India lost to Pakistan, they were attacked, leaving some of them injured. It is, however, not the first time that Kashmiris have been attacked during or after the two sides play each other. Such instances have occurred many times in the past. Many students have faced disciplinary actions too.

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti questioned the critics, terming their outrage as selective against Kashmiris. “Why such anger against Kashmiris for celebrating Pak’s win? Some are even chanting murderous slogans- desh ke gadaaron ko goli maaro/calling to shoot traitors. One hasnt forgotten how many celebrated by distributing sweets when J&K was dismembered & stripped of special status. Lets agree to disagree & take it in the right spirit like Virat Kohli who was the first to congratulate the Pakistani cricket team,” she tweeted after the incident.

In a statement, former minister and JKPC president Sajad Lone said he disagreed the way students were being dealt with while adding that the punitive action won’t help.

“I strongly disagree. If you think that they are not patriotic enough because they cheered for another team- you should have the courage and the belief to wean them back if you think they have gone patriotically astray. Punitive actions won’t help. Have not helped in the past either,” Lone said.

Lone added, “We live in Kashmir and have to live with those who are ideologically opposed to us. But we are confident that it is a game of narratives, of discourses. And that we will win. We will convince all about the goodness of our ideology. We will prevail. But that is if you allow us to.”

Others, mostly affiliated with Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), are asking the authorities to deal with the students strictly.

“Students, doctors enjoy perks, scholarships, boarding, lodging, teaching facilities from the Indian government, and yet they shout pro-Pak slogans after their teams win cricket matches. This is totally unacceptable and those doing it are challenging India's sovereignty and can invite action by law enforcement agencies,” BJP J&K spokesman Altaf Thakur said.

Many students are now afraid of the investigation launched by authorities.

“It is an overreaction, and given what we witness in Kashmir on a daily basis, we will definitely lose sleep for some time,” a student told Newsclick wishing anonymity.

The medical student is referring to a spike in tension and uncertainty since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, which brought J&K directly under New Delhi’s rule. Many, including regional political parties and international rights bodies, have accused the authorities of using excessive force against locals to crush opposition. Journalists and activists, among others, have been booked for social media posts.

In another incident at least nine persons were detained in the Samba area of Jammu division after a group of people affiliated with right wing parties held a demonstration in Chak Manga against celebrating Pakistan’s victory. The Samba police said they were investigating videos that surfaced on social media that showed many cheering for the Pakistan team.

Meanwhile, three Kashmiri students of the RBS Engineering college in Agra were suspended by the college administration following a complaint by BJP Yuva Morcha accusing the three students of praising Pakistan’s performance on social media.

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