Updated: November 1, 2021 7:22:00 pm
A lawyer in Mathura representing journalist Siddique Kappan is likely to take up the case of three Kashmiri students arrested for alleged sedition, after advocates in Agra refused to represent them. Three Kashmiri youths, studying at an Agra engineering college under the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme for J&K students, were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly sharing anti-India messages after Pakistan’s win over India at a T20 World Cup match on Sunday.
Following the arrest, lawyers in Agra said representing the three accused would be “against” the interest of the country. The accused have been identified as Arsheed Yusuf, Inayat Altaf Sheikh and Showkat Ahmed Ganai, students of Raja Balwant Singh (RBS) Engineering Technical College.
“If you raise slogans against India while living in the country, it is not acceptable. It was a decision of the entire Bar Association that no one will represent the youths. As a citizen of this country, one must follow its policies. And if the same does not happen, it must be criticised,” said Pramod Sharma, Chairman of the Agra Bar Association.
Dharmendra Kumar Verma, state head, Advocate Council UP, said: “At all times we have to work for the interest of the nation. What these people did was anti-national and against the sentiment with which we function. The lawyers in the city uphold the view of the Bar and we reached a consensus that no support will come from us. We cannot partake in a process that undermines the nation.”
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The families of the victim have approached Madhuvan Dutt, one of the defence counsel in the case of Kerala-based journalist Siddique Kappan, two PFI members and a driver who were arrested by Mathura Police last year while on their way to Hathras, where a Dalit woman was raped and killed.
“I am in touch with family members of the accused and they have my consent. It has been principally agreed that I will take up the case and the legal formalities are yet to be done. These youths deserve a fair trial. As a lawyer, my patriotism is not about raising slogans or holding a flag, it is about helping each person get a fair and free trial,” Madhuvan Dutt told The Indian Express.
The three were booked under IPC Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (1)(B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public), and 66-F of the Information Technology Act for allegedly sending WhatsApp messages “against the country” after Sunday’s match. The case was lodged at Jagdishpura police station on Tuesday after protests were held by Hindu outfits outside the college demanding their arrest.
“There was a refusal from lawyers who did not want to take up the case of these three persons. It is untrue that they do not have legal representation. We have been in touch with Mr Dutt and the legal aid will be waived off through ACPR. We are also in contact with the families and further legal matters will also be resolved,” said Nasir Khuehami of the J&K Students’ Association.
For the families of the students, the ordeal is taking a toll. “One of the students arrested has no father and his mother works as a labourer. He is the only hope for the family and for them this is a huge task. We are trying to save money from whatever little earnings we have to ensure that there is no barrier in the legal process. They come from poor backgrounds and the families are already suffering. We hope the law will take its due course,” said Khurshid Ahmad, uncle of Arshed Yousuf.
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