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KASHMIR: Arbitrary Detentions Under Terrorism Laws Over Celebrating Pakistani Victory in a Cricket Match

By Tazeen Hasan

Tazeen Hasan illustrates how the Indian Government uses arbitrary detention through anti-terror laws as a Settler-Colonial device against the Indigenous population of Kashmiris.

Kashmiri youth are being booked under draconian laws for celebrating Pakistan’s victory in the Indo-Pak cricket match in Indian-administered Kashmir and India, local Indian and international media reported.

Also, Kashmiri students in Punjab and the Uttar Pradesh States of India were beaten by the mob after the Pakistani victory over Indian Cricket Team.

According to Al-Jazeera, the Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have filed criminal cases under a stringent anti-terror law against the students of two medical colleges in Indian-administered Kashmir for celebrating Pakistan’s victory against India in the T20 World Cup. The cases were filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Activities Act, one of the few controversial laws condemned by human rights groups and the United Nations.

Also, according to the Guardian, police in Agra, Bareilly, and Mohali have arrested seven Kashmiri students for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in a cricket match. According to Indian national media, the college suspended them because they were accused of posting messages on social media supporting Pakistan.

In a tweet, Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, famous for his genocidal remarks against Muslims in his election campaign, said that the three might be charged with sedition. Police have already charged them for cyberterrorism and “promoting enmity among groups” that police accused them of after the arrests on Wednesday.

The Himalayan region of Kashmir is an internationally disputed predominantly Muslim territory where the Indigenous population is struggling to fight for the right to self-determination. Kashmir is claimed by India and Pakistan, which rule over parts of it.

Recognized by India, Pakistan, and United Nations Security Council in 1948, the right to self-determination to Kashmiris has been consistently denied by the Indian Government in the last seven decades.

Anti-India sentiments are very high in Kashmir. A vast majority of Kashmiris support the merger with Pakistan, while the rest want to establish an independent State.

According to the United Nations and human rights organizations, the Indian Government and security forces have committed grave human rights violations against Indigenous Kashmiris i-e extrajudicial killings, rapes, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture, shooting peaceful protestors fatally, or using pellet guns to blind the civilians on a massive scale.

India uses controversial sedition and terrorism laws long condemned by human rights organizations like Amnesty International as lawless laws to curb the dissent in Kashmir to detain peaceful civilians arbitrarily.

Booking medical students over cricket match celebration in criminal cases under anti-terror laws is a heinous and harrowing human rights abuse. Nevertheless, the global silence over India’s atrocities is more harrowing to maintain and forward its settler-colonial agenda.

The crime of these students was nothing but to exercise their freedom of speech and expression. The families have appealed to the Government to release their loved ones.

Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right according to the Universal Declaration of Human rights, Ban on freedom of speech is against article 19 (1)(a) of the Indian constitution that says, ‘all citizens have the right to freedom of speech and expression.’

‘Freedom of Speech and expression means the right to express one’s own convictions and opinions freely by words of mouth, writing, printing, pictures, or any other mode.’

India claims to be the largest democracy in the world. Yet, the world is silent over the lawless settler-colonial tactics of the world’s ‘so-called’ largest democracy.

Arresting medical and engineering students for supporting a particular sports team shows the fears of the Indian Government and frustration over their failure to colonize Kashmir successfully.

According to independent estimates, India is using the brutal force of over 600,000 to 900,000 security forces in an area 132 km in length and 35 km in width, making it the most militarized region globally.

Yet, the Indian Government is frustrated that this massive force can’t discipline Kashmiris to support India in the cricket match.

Using anti-terror laws to detain the civilian population is a shameless settler-colonial tactic arbitrarily, which should be condemned by the United Nations, governments, and human rights organizations worldwide.

Tazeen Hasan is a research fellow and campaign lead against arbitrary detention at Justice For All Canada.

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