Kashmiri students arrested for celebrating India’s Cricket World Cup defeat

By Fayaz Bukhari

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Indian police arrested seven students in the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) region under anti-terror laws for allegedly celebrating Australia’s victory over India in the men’s Cricket World Cup final earlier this month, police said on Tuesday.

A senior police official said seven students from an agriculture university were detained last week after a student filed a complaint accusing them of raising anti-India slogans and cheering for Pakistan along with Australia after the match.

Claimed in full but ruled in part by India and Pakistan, Muslim-majority Kashmir has seen a bloody insurrection against New Delhi for decades, with militants fighting security forces since the 1990s.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed although the violence has been reduced in recent years.

India blames Pakistan for supporting the Muslim insurgents. Pakistan denies this and accuses India of violating the rights of Kashmir’s Muslim people, a charge India rejects.

Police said the seven students were charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) after they found video evidence of them raising anti-India chants. UAPA deals with inciting or advising any unlawful activity and is punishable with seven years’ imprisonment.

Family members and lawyers of the accused were not immediately available for comment.

Political leaders from local parties opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government’s rule over J&K said the arrests were a method to intimidate locals. A local policeman said however the chants “terrorised” those who are pro-India.

Muslims in J&K have in the past cheered for the competing side in India cricket matches as a way of protesting Indian rule.

“It is shocking that cheering for a winning team too has been criminalised in Kashmir,” said the region’s former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.

Australia had entered the World Cup match as clear underdogs against an all-conquering India side, who had won 10 matches in a row to storm into the final. But India was defeated in the final match on Nov. 19.

(This story has been refiled to add ‘India’ to the dateline)

(Writing by Rupam Jain; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)