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Seven Kashmiri students detained for allegedly not supporting India in a game of sports

Seven Kashmiri Muslim students were arrested by India for allegedly not supporting India’s cricket team in a World Cup final against Australia.

The students were studying at the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) in Ganderbal district of Kashmir.

A copy of the first information report (FIR), accessed by news outlet Scroll, shows the students have been booked under Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Sections 505 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code related to public mischief.

The case against Kashmiri students was lodged a day after the world cup final on the basis of a complaint by an Indian student from outside Jammu and Kashmir. The seven students were arrested on November 20. 

The Indian student had accused the Kashmiri students of cheering for Australia and celebrating India’s loss in the cricket match final. The Kashmiri students have also been accused of raising pro-Pakistan slogans during the match.

One university official who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity stated that the Kashmiri students engaged in no violent activity and were punished solely for being jubilant over Australia’s victory in the cricket match.

The family of the students have appealed for their release as the students were on the verge of their degree completion and the arrest endangers their future prospects severely. 

Kashmiri students have for long been punished by the Indian state for cheering for teams playing against India in games of sports. In 2021, India arrested students and staff of medical colleges who celebrated the Pakistani cricket team’s victory over India in the World Cup match, under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

On 14th November, in 2022, Kashmiri Muslim students were beaten up by Hindu nationalists for allegedly supporting Pakistan in a cricket match between Pakistan and England. The incident happened at Lajpat Rai Group of Institutions in Punjab.

Many Kashmiri students were injured and were hospitalized. Instead of taking action against the individuals who attacked Kashmiri students, the police ended up arresting Kashmiri students as well, keeping them in detention for hours. 

The attack was not a singular or new incident, as Kashmiri students studying in India have faced such assaults and attacks in the past as well. 

In February, 2022, three Kashmiri students spent over 100 days in prison for cheering for Pakistan on social media during a cricket match. The families of the three students could not even bail them out due to their extreme poverty. They were charged with “cyber-terrorism”.

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