The political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have criticised the Uttar Pradesh government's move to slap sedition charge on Kashmiri students who were allegedly celebrating Pakistan's victory over India in a match of the ongoing Asia Cup cricket tournament.
Calling it as "wrong and misguided", chief minister Omar Abdullah said, "sedition charges, however, were harsh and unacceptable."
"I believe what the students did was wrong and misguided, but they certainly didn't deserve to have charges of sedition slapped on them.
"Sedition charge against the Kashmiri students is an unacceptably harsh punishment that will ruin their future and further alienate them," said Omar on micro blogging site Twitter.
Omar writes: "I will talk to the UP CM ASAP (as soon as possible) & intervene on behalf of these misguided students to have this charge of sedition removed."
While speaking to NDTV, Abdullah said he had called UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, but he was busy in a meeting.
The Meerut police have registered a case of sedition against 67 Kashmiri students of Meerut's Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (SVSU), who were allegedly celebrating the victory of Pakistan over India in the cricket match on Saturday.
The case of sedition was registered under Section 124(a) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against unknown students of SVSU on Wednesday.
Though praising the university for what he called was a timely action (of sending the students back to Kashmir and avoiding clashes), he said what the UP government did was "uncalled for and needs to be reversed".
"I believe the university did what it had to control the situation, but the action by the UP government is uncalled for and should be reversed," he tweeted.
Meanwhile, the opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) also demanded reversal of the decision. "The charges are very unfortunate. It exposes the double stands and discriminatory attitude against the Kashmiri students," said PDP spokesman Nayeem Akhtar.
While celebrating Pakistan's victory over India, a few of them reportedly shouted slogan "Pakistan Zindabad" on way back to their rooms. Their act triggered tension in the university.
In the meantime, the university management has initiated a three-tier inquiry and questioned other Kashmiri students who purportedly refused to divulge the identity of those who were 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 J&K. They were dropped at Ghaziabad and Delhi railway stations under police security.
Protesting at the City Centre at Lal Chowk in Srinagar, some of the students said they were forced to vacate the hostel.
"We were cheering for both the teams. We were cheering for good cricket, but the moment Pakistan started winning, the expression of other students changed. They called us Pakistani and terrorist," said Muteebu Rehman.
"After that the students ransacked our hostel rooms and demonstrated, saying that the Kashmiris should be thrown out," he added.
"The authorities told us to collect our belongings in 10 minutes or they would ask the local police to resort to baton charge. They told us if we didn't leave the place, people would kill us," said Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, who returned on Wednesday.
He said: "We were bundled in two varsity buses in the presence of police led by a station house officer (SHO) and other university officials. Chief warden and pro vice-chancellor also forced us to vacate. We repeatedly requested them to hear our story, but they refused."
The students said they were dropped at Delhi and Ghaziabad railway stations without food and water.
The group said that they were not feeling safe and could never resume their studies there. "We appeal to the government to migrate us to colleges here," they said.
In a signed letter, around 20 parents have called the action taken by the university as "appropriate"; however, speaking to Hindustan Times they said most of the students were "innocent".
While many students have reached the Valley, there are many who fear returning home.
"My son has not returned. One of his friends and he are hiding in Delhi, as they fear 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 father of a student from south Kashmir. "We hope that they will comeback today. We want our children to be safe," he added.
The students were studying at the university under the Prime Minister's Scholarship Scheme.