India Arrests 15 People For 'Celebrating' Pakistan Win On Charges Of Sedition
THE CITIZEN BUREAU
NEW DELHI: Madhya Pradesh police have reportedly arrested 15 people, charging them with sedition for allegedly shouting ‘pro-Pakistan’ and ‘anti-India’ slogans during the ICC Champions Trophy finals, and for ‘celebrating’ Pakistan’s win.
Police said that 15 people, all Muslim, were arrested on Monday evening, with the sedition charged based on the shouting of slogans and bursting crackers in celebration of Pakistan’s win. The incident took place in Mohad, Madhya Pradesh.
The arrests were made based on a complaint by a local resident identified as Subhash. “Following the complaint we investigated the matter and found that 15 people were involved in it. By Monday late evening we arrested all 15 people”, Sanjay Pathak, inspector of Shahpur police station, told the Hindustan Times. “Following the complaint we investigated the matter and found that 15 people were involved in it. By Monday late evening we arrested all 15 people,” the inspector added.
The arrests were made under 120B (punishment for criminal conspiracy )and 124A (sedition) of IPC.
The accused were produced in a local court which rejected the bail plea, and have been sent to jail.
This is not the first time India has taken action against its own citizens for allegedly supporting Pakistan as the two countries played against each other. In 2014, about 60 Kashmiri college students were arrested on charges of sedition for cheering the Pakistani team after India lost to the neighbouring country in the Asia Cup.
The action came after the students were publicly thrashed and allegedly forced to shout anti-Pakistan slogans.
Pakistan too has taken action against its own citizens for supporting the Indian team. In a widely reported incident, a Pakistani cricket fan was arrested by Okara’s cantonment area police and booked under Section 123-A of the Pakistan Penal Code and the more frequently invoked Section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order in 2016. The accused, Umaz Dar, was arrested after he was seen flying an Indian flag at his home in Pakistan’s Punjab Province. According to police, Daraz was arrested after he went "against the ideology of Pakistan" when he waved the flag at his house. The flag had been waved when India was playing Australia in Aidelaide, with Daraz intending to celebrate Indian cricketer Virat Kohli’s impressive knock of 90-not out.
“He told us that Virat Kohli is his favorite player, and he wanted to show his admiration,” said Aziz Cheema, a local police official in Okara, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal at the time. “So he hoisted an Indian flag on his rooftop. He is a tailor, and told us that he’d stitched the flag himself.”
In the two cricket-mad countries, the sport is often used as a political tool, with either side routinely cancelling cricket tours as tensions between the countries rise. Kashmir -- which remains a source of tensions between the two countries -- figures prominently even in sporting rivalry, as reports of Kashmiris openly supporting Pakistan often makes headlines in India.
Even after Sunday’s ICC Champions Trophy final, firecrackers were reportedly heard in Kashmir, with people celebrating Pakistan’s win. The Citizen’s correspondent JEHANGIR ALI reported from Srinagar:
As it was a Sunday when the markets remain normally shut, many shopkeepers were forced to open their businesses in the evening by the time Pakistan had set a target of mammoth 338 runs for India to chase.
"I got calls from many clients looking for firecrackers. Since we haven't been doing much business due to frequent shutdowns, I didn't let go of the opportunity and opened the shop in the evening," a firecracker dealer in Srinagar, who didn't want to be named, said.
The dealer claimed to have sold firecrackers worth Rs 3 lakhs in a matter of some hours, "I was not the only one who opened up yesterday. The demand for firecrackers was huge and we had reserve stock as Eid is coming up," he said.
Not to be left behind, thousands of netizens on social media congratulated Pakistan for the victory over India with many of them posting celebratory pictures and videos on Facebook and Twitter, including from the University of Kashmir.
"People offered money to youth, who were out on streets to celebrate Pakistan's win, to buy crackers in downtown. Cracker waste formed an additional layer over almost all roads in Srinagar. Amid this, youth carrying Pakistan flag shouted pro-freedom slogans and did Ragda," Moazum Mohammad posted on Facebook.
"A cricket match between Pakistan and India is catharsis for Kashmiris. As far as my memory goes, the Indian team was never supported by Kashmiris. The few people who cheered India were seen as aberrant rather than allegiant," Ather Zia, an academic posted on Facebook.
"The desire for India's loss, and a win for the contesting team, especially if Pakistan, is a leitmotif of Kashmir's cricket-politics; or in simpler words, a placeholder for the desire of liberation," she said.
Amid celebrations, residents in many places including the capital Srinagar accused the forces of smashing cars and beating up people for celebrating Pakistan’s win. Instances of forces' highhandedness were also reported from south Kashmir.
However, a senior police officer said the forces were targeted by stone pelters at some places while youths hurled firecrackers inside their bunkers, forcing them to retaliate, "Overall the situation remained peaceful," the officer said.
(Cover Photo: Kashmiris with the Pakistani flag after the ICC Champions Trophy. Photo by BASIT ZARGAR)