From The Telegraph: Kashmiri cricket fans to be charged for cheering Pakistan
More than 60 Kashmiri Indian students are facing criminal charges and suspension from university because they cheered for India’s bitter cricket rivals Pakistan during their one-day international in Bangladesh last Sunday.
The students were watching the match on television in their hostel at Swami Vivekananda Subharti University in Meerut in a friendly atmosphere with the Kashmiris cheering Pakistan and non-Kashmiri students supporting India.
Sovereignty over divided Kashmir remains the main conflict between India and Pakistan and has been the cause of three of the four wars between the nuclear neighbours since their partition and independence in 1947 when the Maharajah opted to join India despite a Muslim majority.
Many Kashmiris on both sides of the Line of Control between the two halves of the state want independence from India or for their disputed state to be part of Pakistan, while the Hindu majority in Jammu wants to remain in India.
Although there was rivalry in the hostel there was no tension or violence until Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi won the match with two sixes and the Kashmiris started celebrating the victory.
Their celebrations angered their Indian compatriots and fights broke out between the two groups, which deteriorated into a pitched battle. Following the clashes, 67 of the Kashmiris were suspended from the university for shouting “anti-national and pro-Pakistan slogans” and packed onto coaches to take them to Delhi under police escort.
Police officials in Meerut said the university had filed a complaint against the Kashmiri students for ‘anti-national’ activities and damage to college property, although they do not appear to have been the aggressors.
Noor Mohammad Baba, head political science at Kashmir University said the students had been victimised for their failure to support the Indian cricket team. “There is a political issue and a vast population in Kashmir has grievances and dissent against India. Kashmiris express their political feelings against India by all means.
“It’s not just that they will support Pakistan against India, they will equally celebrate a West Indian win.
“The problem is political but Kashmiris take means to express their frustration over the political status quo. Of late, Indian nationalism has been reduced to Pakistan bashing and anybody sympathetic to Pakistan is considered an enemy,” he added.
One Kashmiri student who was watching the match said there had been no problems until India lost.
“We were watching the match together with other students. They were supporting the Indian team and we supporting Pakistan team. It was fine till India lost the game, but after Pakistan’s victory, the Indian students were enraged and they started beating students from Kashmir.
“It was only after other students intervened that the violence stopped but they terrorised us and broke hostel furniture. They threatened us and asked us to pack our bags and leave immediately,” he said.
Omkar Singh, Meerut’s senior superintendent of police, confirmed a case had been registered against the students “for raising pro-Pakistan slogans and damaging property on a complaint filed by the University authorities. We are investigating the matter,” he said.