World

Kashmiri students face sedition charges

Accused after they cheered Pakistani cricket team on TV

Gulzar Ahmed, Muteebul Majid, and Aijaz Bhat are among the students in the case.
Dar Uasom/Associated Press
Gulzar Ahmed, Muteebul Majid, and Aijaz Bhat are among the students in the case.

NEW DELHI — Police in northern India have filed sedition charges against 67 Kashmiri students after some of them cheered for the Pakistani cricket team during a televised match with India on Sunday night.

The charges were filed Tuesday following an official complaint against the students by Manzoor Ahmed, vice chancellor of Swami Vivekanand Subharti University in Meerut, according to M.M. Baig, a Meerut police official. In addition to sedition charges, the students were charged with “instigating hate between two communities.”

Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, wrote in several posts on Twitter that the sedition charges against the students were an overreaction.

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“I believe what the students did was wrong & misguided but they certainly didn’t deserve to have charges of sedition slapped against them,” Abdullah wrote.

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He said he had spoken to his counterpart in Uttar Pradesh state, where Meerut is located, “who has assured me he will personally look into the matter of the Kashmiri students in Meerut.”

Indian media reported that a delegation of leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party, a right-of-center Hindu nationalist group that polls suggest will soon dominate India’s central government, met Ahmed and demanded stern action against the students. A group of students associated with the Hindu party also burned an effigy of Ahmed, local media reported. Ahmed said in an interview Wednesday that he was aware of the effigy burning.

The Kashmiri students were suspended indefinitely and removed from their dorms. To return, they will have to appeal their suspensions.

Cricket is a national obsession in India. Some Kashmiris root against the Indian team because of resentment from decades of national policies there, including routine arrests of pro-independence figures and thousands of disappearances.

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India and Pakistan, once part of the same country, violently divided in 1947 and have since fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, a region divided between the two countries. Pakistan has been the source of repeated terrorist attacks in India, including one in Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 160 people.