Student Leader: Slapping Anti-Terror Laws for Raising Pro-Pakistan Slogan Will Alienate Kashmiris

© AFP 2022 / Tauseef MustafaСтолкновение кашмирских мусульман и индийской полиции в городе Сринагар, Индия
Столкновение кашмирских мусульман и индийской полиции в городе Сринагар, Индия - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.10.2021
Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir, a disputed territory which both India and Pakistan have claimed in full but only controlled in part since 1948. Secessionists launched an armed rebellion in the Nineties against New Delhi, demanding either that Kashmir be merged with Muslim-majority Pakistan or allowed to form an independent state.
Indian police have charged several students with anti-terror laws for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans during a cricket match between the two south Asian rivals.
Sputnik speaks to Nasir Khuehami, spokesman of Jammu and Kashmir Students' Association, about these incidents where he explained the issues in detail and urged the government to give the Kashmiri youth a chance.
Sputnik: Several Kashmiri students have been facing sedition charges for allegedly celebrating and raising slogans favouring Pakistan during a cricket match between India and Pakistan on 24 October. What do you have to say about pro-Pakistan sloganeering, and what would be the repercussions for students facing sedition charges?
Nasir: Sedition and anti-terror charges against students for cheering and yelling for some teams are harsh punishment and will ruin their future. These kinds of steps by the government will further alienate them. We are not justifying their act of raising slogans that hurt the sentiments of some people and the community, but filing cases against them will result in their career assassination. It may have serious repercussions, both in the long term and short term.
The charges will have psychosomatic consequences on the students. The government should give a chance to the students to restore their faith in the ethical standing and the fair constitution of India. Campus voices should not be answered so stringently.
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Sputnik: How many cases of assault and suspension of Kashmiri students have been witnessed in the past?
Nasir: There is no exact figure. However, there are two occasions when these incidents happen mainly: whenever political uncertainty or violent incidents occur in Kashmir, there are direct and indirect consequences on Kashmiri students. We saw how Kashmiri students were thrashed and kicked out, harassed, booked under sedition charges in mainland India during the post-2019 Pulwama terror attack. Second, whenever India and Pakistan clash in a cricket match, Kashmiri students remain a soft target across India.
After a series of attacks on Kashmiri students in mainland India, university officials and some parliamentarians said that if they wish to cheer and yell for Pakistan, they should go, study, and complete their degrees in Pakistan. They referred to these students as "anti-nationals".
Games and sports are not just a form of amusement, they teach us brotherhood and peace. These events must promote brotherhood and harmony, not violence. Hatred, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and prejudices have no place in the spirit of sportsmanship. But since the BJP came to power in 2014, cricket has become unnecessarily politicised, linked and mixed with nationalism and ideology.
Your support for a particular team should not be tagged to your politics or ideology. Let sports remain what it is meant to be.
Sputnik: Earlier this week, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah visited Kashmir and urged the youth to participate in developmental activities and shun resentment against Delhi. How would you see this appeal?
Nasir: The home minister was in Srinagar days back, urging Kashmir's youth to take part in developmental activities. Fine. On the other hand, you slap them with draconian laws, and you think they will come forward in support of the appeal? Appeal to come forward in developmental activities and smashing them with anti-terror charges can't go side by side. It will further alienate them.
Sputnik: What are the reasons for such sloganeering, and what kind of steps do you expect from the government?
Nasir: No doubt they erred, but we hope they will be given a fair chance to return to study and ensure that their future is not destroyed in the country's larger interest. If they make any mistake and raise controversial slogans, we need to reach out to them and counsel them rather than react with harsh decisions.
Since reconciliation with the young is the only way to further the cause engaging with the youth of Jammu and Kashmir. Government should have an amnesty with students who have resorted to objectionable sloganeering for the first time after an India-Pakistan match.
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