A court in Jammu and Kashmir has granted interim bail till December 13 to seven university students after the police dropped charges against them under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The seven Kashmiri students of the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology were arrested after they faced off with students from outside the Union Territory in connection with India’s loss to Australia in the men’s Cricket World Cup final on November 19.
The court, in its order on December 2, directed the students to furnish personal bonds and sureties of Rs 25,000 each. It also told them not to “indulge in any anti-national activity or prevail upon the witnesses of the instant matter”.
The police had booked them under Section 13 of the UAPA (punishment for unlawful activities) and Sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
However, when the students moved the court for bail, the police told the court that they dropped Section 13 of the UAPA after the investigation revealed that the students were not involved in offences under the anti-terror law, The Indian Express reported. However, the police added Section 153A, which deals with promoting enmity between different groups, to the first information report.
On November 28, the police defended invoking UAPA against the students, claiming that it was not a case of clamping down on “dissent or freedom of expression” but a response to the students “terrorising” those with “pro-India” or “anti-Pakistan” feelings.
The police had claimed that such activities are carried out in support of “separatist and terrorist” networks and are not just a personal preference of a sports team.
Commenting on the police dropping UAPA charges against the students, Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti said she was glad that “good sense has prevailed”.
After the case was filed, Mufti had said that invoking laws such as the UAPA on students “reveals the ruthless mindset of the establishment towards youngsters in J&K”.