A Pakistani fan of cricketer Virat Kohli is facing up to 10 years in jail after being arrested for hoisting the Indian flag on his home despite being rebuked by his neighbours.
Umar Daraz, arrested on Tuesday and charged with committing an offence against the state, was known to residents of his village in Okara district of Punjab province as an ardent fan of Kohli.
Kohli’s performance in the recent series in Australia excited Daraz so much that he pasted Kohli’s pictures and hoisted an Indian flag at his home. After his arrest, a magistrate remanded 22-year-old Daraz in judicial custody.
District police chief Faisal Rana said Daraz, a tailor, had stitched the Indian flag at his shop, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Rana Rashid, a neighbour of Daraz, said people had rebuked him after spotting the Indian flag on his house and advised him to remove it.
Daraz paid no attention to people and kept on working in his small shop. Someone alerted police, who raided his house and removed Kohli’s pictures and the flag.
Rashid said Daraz’s father Liaquat works at a bus stand in the village. Daraz was known as a quiet person who would stay holed up in his shop the whole day, watching cricket matches and sewing clothes, the Dawn reported.
Rashid also said he felt sorry for Daraz as he would have no access to TV in the Okara jail to watch Kohli batting in upcoming T20 matches.
Police arrested Daraz under section 123-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), which deals with actions that damage the sovereignty of Pakistan, and the Maintenance of Public Order law. The maximum punishment under Section 123-A of the PPC is 10 years in jail or a fine or both.
Officials said police will seek authority from the government under section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code for the trial of Daraz.
Okara shot to the limelight in 2008 after it emerged that Ajmal Kasab, the lone attacker captured alive during the terror attacks on Mumbai, was a resident of Faridkot village in the district. The Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group has a strong presence in the area.