Gardiner Harris

From New York TimesKashmiri Students Briefly Charged With Sedition for Rooting for Wrong Cricket Team

The police in northern India briefly filed sedition charges against 67 Kashmiri students after some of them cheered for the Pakistani cricket team during a televised match with India on Sunday night.

The charges were initially filed after an official complaint was lodged against the students by Manzoor Ahmed, vice chancellor of Swami Vivekanand Subharti University in Meerut, according to M. M. Baig, a Meerut police official. In addition to sedition charges, the students were charged with “instigating hate between two communities.” But after the police and local officials reviewed the case, the sedition charges were dropped on Thursday, according to local media reports.

Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, had written in several posts on Twitter that the sedition charges against the students were an overreaction.

“I believe what the students did was wrong & misguided but they certainly didn’t deserve to have charges of sedition slapped against them,” Mr. Abdullah wrote.

He said he had spoken to his counterpart in Uttar Pradesh State, where Meerut is located, “who has assured me he will personally look into the matter of the Kashmiri students in Meerut.”

Indian news media reported that a delegation of leaders from the Bharatiya Janata Party, a right-of-center Hindu nationalist group that polls suggest will soon dominate India’s central government, met Mr. Ahmed and demanded stern action against the students. A group of students associated with the Hindu party also burned an effigy of Mr. Ahmed, local news media reported. Mr. Ahmed said in an interview on Wednesday that he was aware of the effigy burning.

But on Thursday, Akhilesh Yadav, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, said he told state officials that the sedition charges should be withdrawn, The Associated Press reported. Later, Anil Kumar Gupta, the principal secretary in Uttar Pradesh, said that the sedition charges were dropped after a preliminary investigation by the district administration, according to the newspaper Hindustan Times.

After the match on Sunday, the Kashmiri students were suspended indefinitely from the university and removed from their dorms. To return, they will have to appeal their suspensions.

Cricket is a national obsession in India. Some Kashmiris root against the Indian team because of resentment from decades of national policies there, including routine arrests of pro-independence figures and thousands of disappearances.

India and Pakistan, once part of the same country, violently divided in 1947 and have since fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, a region divided between the two countries. Pakistan has been the source of repeated terrorist attacks in India, including one in Mumbai in 2008 that killed more than 160 people.

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