In Indian-administered Kashmir, authorities have detained seven students from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Their alleged crime being celebrating India’s loss in the recent cricket World Cup finals. The stringent UAPA, criticised by human rights groups, has been predominantly employed by the Hindu nationalist government to quell political dissent and target Muslim activists. This incident unfolded on November 19 during a confrontation between the accused Kashmiri students and non-local counterparts while watching India versus Australia at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
Australia’s victory over India in the cricket World Cup, marking their sixth win, extinguished India’s hopes for a third title. A non-local student filed a complaint accusing the seven Kashmiri students of verbal abuse, threats, and chanting pro-Pakistan slogans. The police registered the case under the UAPA based on this complaint. The complainant, a 20-year-old student, claimed that after the match, the Kashmiri students targeted him for supporting India, raising anti-India sentiments.
The charges against the seven students include Section 13 of UAPA, addressing advocacy, abetment, or incitement of unlawful activities, along with Sections 505 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, dealing with intent to incite offense against a particular class or community and criminal intimidation. Despite criticism for invoking terror charges in a sports-related case, the police defended their action, emphasising the severity of the charges. The arrested students, all in their early 20s pursuing a Bachelor of Veterinary Science, now face a precarious situation with potential long-term consequences for their lives. Concerned relatives are urging the government to reconsider the harsh charges, emphasising the youthful indiscretion of the accused.
This incident echoes a previous occurrence in October 2021 when Kashmiri students faced UAPA charges for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s victory against India in the Twenty20 World Cup. However, in that instance, the charges were later dropped. The use of such stringent laws in cases related to cricket underscores the deep-rooted rivalry between India and Pakistan, both claiming Kashmir while administering separate parts of the region.