Sirinagar, 28 November, 2023 (GNP): Indian police in occupied Kashmir have apprehended seven university students, invoking stringent anti-terrorism laws, following accusations of “anti-India sloganeering” subsequent to Australia’s victory over India in the Cricket World Cup final.
As reported by the police on Tuesday, the arrests were made based on allegations of “intimidation and anti-India slogans against those holding different opinions” after the November 19 cricket match, where India faced a six-wicket defeat at the hands of Australia.
The incident unfolded at an agriculture university, with police action initiated after a student from outside the territory lodged a complaint detailing verbal abuse, threats, and intimidation allegedly directed at them for their support of the country during the match.
The police case file, viewed by AFP, documented the complaint: “They started abusing me and targeting me for being a supporter of my country and also threatened me to shut up otherwise I would be shot (sic).”
Under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a stringent anti-terrorism law, and other sections of the penal code, the seven students face charges leveled by the authorities.
The arrests have sparked criticism from Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of occupied Kashmir, who denounced the actions, stating, “Why is there so much fear, restlessness and paranoia only because some students celebrated Australia’s victory? You […] want to destroy their lives for cheering the team of their choice and for expressing happiness when that team plays well. I condemn it.”
The UAPA legislation, often wielded by India in Kashmir, has been a subject of concern among activists for its vague language and frequent use against residents, journalists, and dissenters. The law permits individuals to be detained for six months without charge, and securing bail is deemed nearly impossible.
This incident echoes a similar scenario in 2021, where police took action against several hundred students celebrating Pakistan’s win over India in a T20 World Cup match, detaining six residents and initiating UAPA investigations against numerous students in the occupied territory.
A number of opinions and comments have been made on the legal cognisance taken of the happenings surrounding anti India sloganeering and intimidation of others who did not agree with them in an university after the conclusion of World Cup cricket match.
— Ganderbal Police (@Gbl_Police) November 28, 2023
Responding to the recent arrests, police in Ganderbal district issued a statement on X, clarifying that the arrests were not merely about expressing sporting preferences. Instead, it was stated to be “about terrorizing others who may be nourishing pro-India feelings or anti-Pakistan feelings or disagreeing.”