Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, criticised the police action against Kashmiri students who celebrated Pakistan’s victory against India in a T20 World Cup cricket match.
After the match that took place on October 24, students and staff members at two medical colleges in Srinagar were charged under the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act, an anti-terror law, for cheering on Pakistan.
In Agra, three Kashmiri college students were jailed on Wednesday for allegedly shouting pro-Pakistan slogans following the country’s victory. The students had also reportedly written posts on social media in support of Pakistan.
The students in Agra were charged under Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc) and 505 (1)(B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) of the Indian Penal Code.
They were also booked under Section 66-F of the Information Technology Act, which covers cyber-terrorism.
Mufti said in her letter to Modi that such actions will “further the sense of mistrust and alienation between the younger generation and the rest of the country”.
The Peoples Democratic Party president said there were expectations that Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir on October 23 would led to an outreach.
“Instead what followed was shocking and worrying,” Mufti said. “A friendly cricket match between India and Pakistan that was solely a source of entertainment for people here bruised by incessant lockdowns, internet gags and restriction of movement led to booking youngsters under the draconian UAPA for simply choosing to cheer the winning side.”
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Mufti said that the brightest young people of Jammu and Kashmir had been been targeted and slapped with anti-terror laws.
“While within Kashmir youth are no strangers to the state excesses , three students in Agra too have been arrested and charged with sedition for the same reasons,” Mufti said. “This despite the college’s own admission that they didn’t engage in any activity that might be construed as anti-national.”
Mufti reminded Modi that at a meeting with Kashmiri political leaders in June, he had expressed his intention to reduce the differences between Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir.
“We had been waiting for the rollout of a policy to address the hearts and minds of people especially youth,” Mufti said. “While the spree of raids, arrests, killings continue unabated the level of repression and state intolerance has touched a new low.”
Mufti told Modi that the Centre should engage with the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. “Patriotism and sense of loyalty has to be cultivated with compassion and can’t be forced by wielding the baton or by the barrel of a gun,” she said. “I fervently request you to intervene so that the future of these young bright minds is not destroyed.”