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Law

In Jail for 5 Months For Celebrating Pak Cricket Victory, 3 Kashmiri Students Get Bail

The students had initially been deprived of access to legal aid in Agra, with lawyers allegedly refusing to represent them as they had been labelled “anti-national”.

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New Delhi: The Allahabad high court on Wednesday, March 30, granted bail to three Kashmiri students who had been jailed in Agra under charges of sedition for celebrating Pakistan’s victory against India in cricket.

Inayat Altaf Shaikh, Shaukat Ahmed Ghani and Arshid Yusuf have been in jail since October 28, 2021.

As The Wire has reported, all three were enrolled at the Raja Balwant Singh Engineering College in Agra as part of the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme, for economically weak students of Jammu and Kashmir. They were arrested on October 27.

Police had registered cases against them under Section 153-A (enmity between communities), 505-(1) (B) (intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) of the Indian Penal Code. They were also charged under 66-F (cyber-terrorism) of the Information Technology Act for sending WhatsApp messages allegedly celebrating India’s cricket loss.

The UP police later added Section 124A (sedition) to the FIR after chief minister Adityanath said that those celebrating Pakistan’s victory will have to face sedition charges.

A former Supreme Court judge, Justice Deepak Gupta, had told The Wire that celebrating a Pakistan cricket victory over India is “definitely not sedition and it’s ridiculous to think it is”.

Senior advocate Ramesh Chand Yadav, assisted by advocate Santosh Kumar Singh, argued for their bail in the high court.

Also read: ‘We Are Fearing the Worst’: Families of Kashmiri Students Arrested After India-Pak Match

Advocate Madhuvan Dutt Chaturvedi, who had argued for the three in the trial court, has expressed satisfaction over the bail order and hope that the review pending in the Agra Sessions Court, challenging the magistrate’s order to take cognisance without state permission will be favourable to the students.

The students had initially been deprived of access to legal aid in Agra city, with lawyers allegedly refusing to represent them as they had been labelled “anti-national”.

Following this, student bodies and volunteers had arranged for legal aid in Mathura. The three had also moved court to move the case from Agra to Mathura.

The Wire has reported on the students’ families’ repeated appeals to secure bail on humanitarian grounds.

The sedition charge against the students and their incarceration had made headlines globally.