Kashmiri students who cheered on Pakistan detained under anti-terrorism law

Srinagar, Kashmir under Indian administration – Police in Indian-administered Kashmir have launched criminal charges under strict anti-terrorism law against students at two area medical schools for celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in the T20 World Cup .

Pakistan beat their Indian rivals with a 10-wicket victory in the cricket match in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday night. The loss of India triggered attacks against Kashmiri students in the state of Western Punjab and a Muslim member of the Indian team was assaulted online.

Anti-Indian sentiment is deeply rooted in Kashmir, a Himalayan territory claimed in its entirety by India and Pakistan, which partly reign over it.

A popular rebellion against Indian rule erupted in Indian-administered Kashmir in the 1990s, with rebels demanding either a merger with Muslim-majority Pakistan or an independent state.

In such a scenario, an Indo-Pakistan cricket match provokes strong reactions mainly in the valley, with locals publicly declaring their support for Pakistan to make a political statement.

The Indo-Pakistan cricket matches provoke strong reactions in South Asia. This photo shows Mohammed Shami (left), who was abused online after India lost the T20 match [Aijaz Rahi/AP]

Following Sunday’s match, similar celebrations took place in the disputed region for Pakistan’s first-ever win over India in a Cricket World Cup.

Among the cheers were students from the region’s top medical schools: Government Medical College and Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, both located in the main city of Srinagar. Videos of their celebration outside their residential homes have gone viral on social media.

On Tuesday, a senior police official told Al Jazeera that two cases under the Prevention of Illegal Activities Act (UAPA) were filed against an unknown number of students for “insulting national sentiment during the match cricket “.

No student was named in the first information report (FIR) filed by police and no arrests have been made so far.

But the move sparked outrage in the region as it comes a day after more than a dozen Kashmiri students were assaulted by mobs at at least two colleges in the Punjab for celebrating Pakistan’s victory over Pakistan. India.

The students said they were watching the game in their rooms when people carrying sticks attacked them, seriously injuring some.

UAPA’s cases against medical students have been filed following a barrage of online trolling, with some social media users saying students should be ‘sent to Pakistan’ and denied government jobs in the future.

Indian paramilitary soldiers search Kashmiris in surprise screening operation in Srinagar [Dar Yasin/AP]

During the 2014 Asian Cup tournament, nearly 60 Kashmiri students were suspended by a college in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh after celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India. The charges were subsequently dropped.

Ravinder Raina, chairman of the ruling Bharatiya Janta (BJP) party in Indian-administered Kashmir, said all those who applauded for “enemy country” Pakistan will soon be in jail.

“Those people who celebrated the victory of the Pakistanis in Kashmir or any other place, the case has been recorded. These people will be identified and they will soon be behind bars, ”Raina, based in Jammu, in the south of the country, told reporters.

Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister of Indian-administered Kashmir, criticized the attacks on the Kashmiris following their reaction to Pakistan’s victory.

“Why such anger against the Kashmiris for celebrating Pakistan’s victory? She asked on Twitter.

“We have not forgotten how many celebrated by distributing candy when [region] was dismembered and deprived of special status, ”she wrote, referring to India’s decision in 2019.

In August 2019, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi deleted Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution, depriving India’s only Muslim-majority region of its limited autonomy. This decision was followed by a security crackdown lasting several months, the arrest of hundreds of Kashmiris and the division of the region into two territories under federal control.

Since then, the heavily militarized region has seen unprecedented unrest, with at least 39 people, including 12 civilians, 17 rebels and 10 Indian soldiers, killed this month alone.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the region since 1990 as a result of the conflict.

A Kashmiri human rights lawyer, who declined to be named, told Al Jazeera that shouting “Pakistan zindabad” (Long live Pakistan) after a cricket victory is not legally wrong.

“The court will ultimately dismiss the case against these students, but under UAPA it is virtually impossible to get bail,” he told Al Jazeera.

“It is very immature, callous and hard to impose a strict anti-terrorism law on students for a simple celebration, however enthusiastic they may be.”

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