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Muslim students, teacher formally arrested in India

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Celebrating Pak victory: Muslim students, teacher formally arrested in India

NEW DELHI: Indian police arrested three Muslim students and a teacher for celebrating the Pakistan cricket team’s crushing victory against arch-rival India in the Twenty20 World Cup match, officials said on Thursday.

Police Inspector Pavindra Kumar Singh alleged that the students, originally from the Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOJ&K), were taken into custody on Wednesday in the northern city of Agra for “promoting enmity” and disrupting religious harmony.

The case was lodged after the right-wing Hindu nationalist groups barged into Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical College demanding the arrest of the three students, according to press reports.

Also on Wednesday, teacher Nafeesa Attari was arrested in Udaipur in western India for posting “we won” on her WhatsApp status after Pakistan routed India on Sunday in Dubai. She was later released on bail. Attari, who was also dismissed from her job, apologised for her conduct in a video message, saying she never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments. “I am an Indian and I love my country. I love India as much as anyone else does. As soon as I realised that I made a mistake, I deleted my post,” she said.

The Times of India said two more people were arrested for raising pro-Pakistan slogans in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The arrests were made after the police launched an investigation into several hundred students who burst into celebrations in Kashmir following the T20 clash watched by millions across South Asia.

Anti-India sentiment is widespread and deep in Muslim-majority Kashmir, a Himalayan territory claimed in its entirety by both Pakistan and India. The police are reportedly looking to book the “ringleaders” of the Kashmir celebration under harsh anti-terror legislation that allows suspects to be held for six months without charge.

The officers also detained for questioning six residents in the Jammu region of the territory after a video emerged on the social media showing them supporting Pakistan’s cricket team. On Monday, a group of Kashmiri students in the northern state of Punjab reported being attacked after they celebrated Pakistan’s victory.

Analysts said the right-wing Hindu groups have been emboldened and that the space for dissent has also shrunk since nationalistic Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power in 2014.

Despite their mutual love for the cricket, the nations’ political enmity means they now only play against each other at the international tournaments. Pakistan’s win on Sunday was their first in 13 attempts at the World Cup competition.

In the aftermath, celebratory gunfire erupted in the Pakistani cities of Islamabad and Karachi. India’s only Muslim player, Mohammed Shami, was subjected to a storm of social media abuse. —AFP

News Desk adds: People in India’s most populous state who praise arch rival Pakistan’s victory could face sedition charges, authorities said on Thursday.“Those celebrating Pakistan’s victory will face sedition,” the office of Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said on Twitter, with an accompanying screenshot of a news report.

The offence, if proved, carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Adityanath’s office had ordered state police to take action depending on the circumstances of each case, said state information official Navneet Sehgal, adding that police would decide on the charges based on their investigations.

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