How Could a Cricket Match Land Him in Jail?: Kin of Arrested Kashmiri Students
Three Agra college students were arrested over 'anti-national' sloganeering after the India-Pakistan T20 match.
A group of women gathered at the house of Arshid Yousuf in Checkpora village in Chadoora area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district to show support on Friday, 29 October.
Arshid, a student of civil engineering at Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical College in Agra city is one among three students booked for sedition for allegedly uploading WhatsApp status congratulating Pakistan for registering win over India in the T20 World Cup match on Sunday.
“He called us around 5pm on Wednesday and said that following the Indo-Pak cricket match celebrations, college authorities have asked us to hand over cell phones and I may not be able to call for next two days," Hanifa Begum Arshid's mother told The Quint.
Besides Arshid, Showkat Ahmad Ganie, and Inayat Altaf Sheikh were also taken into custody by police on Monday and a case was registered under stringent laws against them.
Police has booked them under IPC Section 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups), 505 (1)(B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) and Section 66 F of the Information Technology Act.
“He spoke normally and hung up after sometime. After we finished dinner later in the night and were about to sleep, his uncle, who lives adjacent to Arshid’s single story house, came across a post on Facebook which read that three college student’s have been suspended and booked in Agra,” Hanifa narrated.
Hanifa said that they then tried to call Arshid but the phone was picked up by his Kashmiri colleague.
"He told us that they are detained inside the college campus and assured they would be released in the morning,” she said.
Arshid’s aunt Rubeena said that however, they were told in the morning that he has been jailed in Agra for “celebrating Pakistan’s win over India”.
A Single Mother, a Poor father
Arshid lost his father Mohammad Yousuf in 2002 in a tragic road accident next to his home. Since then, his mother has raised Arshid and his two younger sisters.
“I have been doing labour work in my locality - ploughing gardens, sowing and harvesting rice saplings, and carrying heavy load on my shoulders only to earn money to give proper education to my children,” Hanifa said.
“I am extremely poor and couldn’t effort to provide higher education to my son. The government provided an opportunity to my son to study outside on scholarship,” said Hanifa.
However, the recent sedition charges have left his family clueless and hopeless.
“I have nothing in my life except him. He is my only hope after Allah. The news has left me numb and clueless,” she said.
Arshid’s family contacted the college Principal who assured them that their son have done nothing wrong that amounts him to be booked for sedition.
However, the recent video clip from Agra court wherein some lawyers are seen kicking and thrashing the trio while they are being bundled in a police jeep has created fear and anxiety among the family.
“Watching my son being slapped, kicked, and hounded in a video clip outside court has pierced my heart. Don’t they have their own children,” she said while tears rolling down her cheeks.
After a brief commotion, she said, I have dreamt of the day when he will finish his studies and earn livelihood for himself and for us.
"I request government to pardon my son if he is guilty and don't ruin his career for God's sake," she concluded.
Fear of a Legal Fight
The mood was not very different at the residence of Showkat Ahmad Ganie in Shahgund area of Bandipora in north Kashmir.
Mohammad Shaban Ganie, Showkat's father told The Quint that they are dejected by the arrest of their son and have no clue how to get him out of the jail.
“I am an illiterate person and have no knowledge where to go and how to deal with this case,” he said, adding the family doesn't have the finances for a legal fight.
The family was unaware of the arrest till a neighbour conveyed it to them on Thursday morning.
“I was shocked and couldn’t understand how a cricket match being played in a foreign country could ruin my son's career," he said.
Ganie’s family went to the press enclave in Srinagar on Friday to appeal to the Jammu and Kashmir government to help him get his son released.
Meanwhile, the family members of Inayat Ahmad Sheikh travelled to Agra from Doniwara area of Budgam district the very next day after getting the news.
Speaking to The Quint, Inayat’s uncle Shabir Ahmad Sheikh said that he met the college authorities. “However, we have returned disappointed with no clue and no remedy to our suffering,” he said.
Shabir claimed that the college authorities denied any sort of help and support.
“Now, I am in contact with a lawyer to plead their case in court,” he told The Quint over the phone.
Fear Among Students
The recent actions taken by authorities against the Kashmiri students outside and in the valley has created an atmosphere of fear.
Manzoor Wani, a research fellow at Agra University told The Quint that after the incident, Yuva Morcha leaders including other people from Vishwa Hindu Parishad had protested outside the college campus demanding suspension of the three students.
Manzoor said that college authorities, succumbing to the pressure, then suspended the trio.
The students studying in Agra have slowly started to return home and many have stopped attending classes after the incident.
“A total of 7 students are enrolled in engineering college, out of which 3 are behind bars and rest of the 4 have moved back to home,” he said, adding there are similar reports of students in other colleges in Agra also retuning home.
The Jammu and Kashmir Students Association (JKSA) has written to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, to drop the charges against the three Kashmiri students and revoke their suspension from college also. However, the trio will be produced before a magistrate for the remand.
Spokesperson of JKSA, Nasir Khuehami, said that there is nothing wrong in cheering for any team. “It is the right of an individual to cheer for the team or player he/she likes the most and the arbitrary action of the college authorities and of the police against the Kashmiri students is totally unwarranted,” he said.
Former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah while hitting out at the GoI said that the college authorities have given these students a clean chit & confirmed they didn’t shout any slogans.
People’s Democratic Party President and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti also called for the release of the students. She said that “crackdown on Kashmiri students both within J&K and outside is reprehensible.”
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