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J&K Parties Slam Arrest of 7 Kashmiri Students Under UAPA

Anees Zargar |
The Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology students had allegedly cheered against the Indian team during the ICC Cricket World Cup final.

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) political parties have slammed the arrest of seven Kashmiri students of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) under UAPA for allegedly cheering against the Indian team during the ICC Cricket World Cup final on November 19. 

The J&K Police booked the seven students on the complaint of a non-local student who accused them of threatening him and others for supporting the national team. 

The police in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district lodged a case under Section 13 (unlawful activities punishable with imprisonment) of the UAPA and Sections 505 and 506 of the IPC.

J&K’s political parties termed the action “excessive” and “arbitrary”. 

The “misuse of UAPA” against individuals “has become a norm” in J&K and broadly in the country, CPI(M) Central Committee member and former Kulgam MLA MY Tarigami told NewsClick.

“It is absolutely unfortunate and draconian but it has become a new norm as the law has been slapped indiscriminately against anybody and everybody, including journalists. No words or condemnation are enough against such acts,” he said.

PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti alleged that the incident reflects the ruling dispensation’s “ruthless mindset” and requested lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha’s intervention.

“Disconcerting & shocking that cheering for a winning team too has been criminalised in Kashmir. Normalising slapping of draconian laws like UAPA on journalists, activists & now students reveals the ruthless mindset of the establishment towards youngsters in J&K. Hearts & minds of people through barrel of a gun. Request @manojsinha_ ji to look into this,” she posted on X.

JJNC spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar also urged the administration to show tolerance. 

“Slapping UAPA on these students is excessively severe; instead, they could have been suspended and provided with counseling (sic). I hope that the authorities adopt a more lenient approach, especially considering these students were nearing completion of their degrees,” he posted on X.

The arrests were widely condemned on social media platforms, including on X, where many expressed solidarity with the students and argued that UAPA is “designed for terror, not dissent”. 

The Jammu and Kashmir Police in a statement issued on Tuesday, however, refuted the allegations stating that the case against students is not “merely about raising pro-Pakistan slogans”. “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 or disagreeing,” the Kashmir Zone Police said.

It is pertinent to mention that, the police added that the FIR No 317/2023 in the case was lodged on the basis of a written complaint received and relevant Sections were invoked as per the contents of the complaint.

“Section 13 of UAPA is about inciting, advocating and encouraging separatist ideology. It is not about planning, aiding and executing actual terror Acts. It classifies such actions as unlawful. In contrast to other provisions of Act it is a softer provision of Act,” the police added.

Kashmiri students have often courted controversy for supporting Pakistan during cricket tournaments. Many have faced harassment or terror laws and have been jailed. In April 2022, three Kashmiri students booked for celebrating Pakistan cricket team’s victory over India in a T20 World Cup match in 2021 were released after nearly six months in Agra jail. 

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