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Sedition charge against J-K students, Omar upset

india Updated: Mar 06, 2014 20:22 IST
Toufiq Rashid
sedition charge against Kashmiri students

Chief minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday led a strong criticism by political parties over the Uttar Pradesh government's move to press sedition charges against 67 Kashmiri students who allegedly celebrated Pakistan's victory over India in an Asia Cup match last week.

Omar Abdullah also spoke to his UP counterpart Akhilesh Yadav after police registered a case of sedition against 67 Kashmiris studying at Meerut's Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (SVSU).

The students had allegedly celebrated Pakistan's nail-biting, one-wicket victory over India in a match at the ongoing Asia Cup at Dhaka on Saturday.

The case of sedition was registered under Section 124 (a) of the Indian Penal Code against unknown students of SVSU on Wednesday.

"Have just spoken to CM UP who has assured me he will personally look into the matter of the Kashmiri students in Meerut," Omar Abdullah said on micro blogging site Twitter.

"I believe what the students did was wrong and misguided but they certainly didn't deserve to have charges of sedition slapped against them. Sedition charge against Kashmiri students is an unacceptably harsh punishment that will ruin their futures and will further alienate them," the chief minister said in another tweet.

Praising the university for what he called was timely action (of sending the students back to Kashmir and avoiding clashes) he, however, said that what the UP government did was "uncalled for and needs to be reversed".

The opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) also demanded rollback of the decision.

"The charges are very unfortunate. It exposes the double stands and discriminatory attitude against Kashmiri students," PDP spokesperson Nayeem Akhtar said.

A few among the group of Kashmiri students, who allegedly celebrated Pakistan's victory, are even accused of shouting "Pakistan zindabad" on the way back to their rooms. Their "act" triggered tension in the university.

The university management initiated a three-tier inquiry and questioned other Kashmiri students who refused to divulge the identity of those who were allegedly involved in the incident.
As a result, the management suspended all 67 Kashmiri students residing in the hostel.

The suspended students were asked to vacate the hostel and go back to their homes in Jammu and Kashmir. They were dropped at the Ghaziabad and Delhi railway stations under police security.
Protesting at the city centre at Lal Chowk in Srinagar, some students said they were forced to leave the university.

"We were cheering for both the teams. We were cheering for good cricket but the moment Pakistan started winning, the expression of the other students changed. They called us Pakistanis and terrorists," said one of the students Muteebu Rehman.

Another student Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, who returned on Wednesday, claimed the authorities told them to collect their belongings in ten minutes. "They told us if we didn't leave the place people will kill us".

While many students have reached the valley, others are afraid to return home.

"My son has not returned. He and a friend of his are hiding in Delhi. For, they feel their families might accuse them of wrongdoing. We have assured them that we will say nothing but they have not returned and their phones are also not reachable," said the father of a student from South Kashmir.

The students were pursuing different courses under the prime minister's scholarship scheme.