Around 60 Kashmiri college students studying in Meerut were on Thursday charged with sedition by Uttar Pradesh police for cheering Pakistan’s victory against India during a recent cricket match. To see this event as a tragic aberration is to forget the grim history of India. Back in 2012, Award-winning political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was charged with sedition and later arrested by the Maharashtra police. Sedition charges were dropped a month later. Thankfully the sedition charges in the present case were dropped within a day.
Before jumping further into the nuances, it baffles me as to why these charges were framed if they had to be subsequently dropped?? How can Uttar Pradesh police levy a charge that too as grave as sedition charge and quash it the next moment. I would like to believe that it was human error and police officials were not working under any political influence. This is the same land where the entire police machinery is put to action to find a minister’s lost buffalo. Hence the lesser we speak of them, the better!!
When India lost to Pakistan and lost its berth to Asia Cup final; I, being a die-hard cricket fan, was devastated. I would have loathed anyone cheering for Pakistan at that instant. This is what happened in the Swami Vivekananda Subharti University. Some Kashmiri students were allegedly celebrating the victory of Pakistan. This did not go down well with others and subsequently led to the tension in the campus. Keeping the law aside for a while, I personally feel that if someone cheers for Pakistan in a game, it no way means that he is any lesser Indian. If you watch the game of cricket just to see your side win, irrespective of the result, cricket loses everytime. Better team should win and we must appreciate it. As far as patriotism is concerned, it is far beyond these weeny things as which team you support.
What makes this issue critical is that students in question are from Kashmir. Students were suspended from the university with immediate effect and were asked to vacate the hostel. Resentment in the valley is evident. Even the CM of the state criticized this severe punishment levied on the students. Had they been from any other state, would the university and the police respond in the same way? Had it been for a country other than Pakistan, would the police still levy sedition charges? If the answer to these is NO, I am sorry to say that fundamental right to freedom of students have been compromised. There is no law that bars you from supporting any team or cheering for their victory.
Hence, no doubt UP police might have gone a tad too far to levy sedition charges against the students. But the students should also realize that publicly displaying their exuberance over defeat of Indian Cricket team is bound to hurt popular sentiments in this cricket crazy nation. These are sensitive issues and I would request all the political parties to refrain from giving it communal or anti-national overtone. We just need to learn from this incident and move on!!
Its NOW or NEVER!!
Its NOW or NEVER!!