In Defence of Kashmiri Students 

Three students arrested in Agra for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s win

By Nasir Khuehami 

THE recent India vs Pakistan match that had the two neighbors on their toes given their political history, turned out to be an unwelcome game for Kashmir. Following the Indian cricket team’s loss in the T20 World Cup against Pakistan, many Kashmiris were harrassed in campuses in various parts of India.

In Agra, three Kashmiri students from Raja Balwant Singh (RBS) Engineering Technical Institute were booked for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s victory on 24th October. Despite college authorities making it clear that no anti-India slogans were raised inside the campus, they were arrested following a complaint by a local BJP leader.

When brought to the Agra court, right wing activists and local lawyers roughed them up inside court premises and no lawyer of the Bar Association agreed on pleading their case.

Agra wasn’t the only threatening host to Kashmiri students. Around twelve students were also assaulted in Sanguru and Mohali in Punjab by students from Bihar and UP. NSUI activists also filed a complaint in Chikkaballapur Karnataka against Kashmiri students for posting a congratulatory message after the India Pakistan match.

This kind of scapegoating ahead of crucial elections in India isn’t new to Kashmiris.

Some medical students in Kashmir have been booked under UAPA as well.

Booking Kashmiri students under the stringent sedition law over a mere WhatsApp status is arbitrary and unwarranted. A former SC judge Deepak Gupta echoed a similar opinion in a recent interview with The Wire. He said, “Cheering for any team or player is not sedition and it’s ridiculous to think it is so. It may be offensive but it is not illegal in any way”. He added that there is no place for sedition in a civilised democracy.

Infact, Indian Cricket team’s captain Virat Kohli, memorialised sportsmanship in the congratulatory hug that he extended to Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan following their victory. He went a step ahead when he called out the bigotry of people who blamed Muhammad Shami, a muslim Indian cricket player, for India’s loss.

One would have thought that these role models had done enough to set the record straight. However, in today’s India, with right wing forces ruling the roost, sports is a means to show nationalism. Showing support to a particular team is a rite of passage that all must ace. This enforced nationalism’s first casualty is always a Kashmiri.

Students from J&K, who go to other states of the country do so to access better education. Even with their claims of “Zero tolerance towards discrimination”, colleges in India have failed to provide Kashmiri students a safe environment to learn and grow.

Those trying to spin politics and religion around every action of theirs are the actual threat to the fabric of India. These bigoted minds and the augmentation of their views through media’s negative reportage and representation of Kashmiris, is responsible for hostility towards Kashmiris.

True that some may be emotionally connected to the game but why target Kashmiris to cope up with the results of the game? It truly defeats the purpose of sports.

We hope that in the larger interest of the country, a sympathetic and collaborative hand should be extended to students and they should be absolved of all charges. Many of these students belong to economically underprivileged backgrounds. The government should not alienate them further. The Government should give them a chance to restore their faith in the ethical standing and the fairness of the constitution of India. Coercion burns bridges.

Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer

  • Nasir Khuehami is the National Spokesperson of J&K Students Association. He tweets @NasirKhuehami and can be reached out at [email protected]

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