Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced on Thursday that the charge of sedition will be invoked against those celebrating Pakistan’s victory against India at the recent T20 World Cup match. At least five people have been arrested across UP on the allegation.
“Those celebrating Pakistan’s victory will face sedition,” a tweet posted on the official handle of Adityanath’s office Thursday said.
The three engineering students arrested in Agra have been sent to 14-day judicial custody.
On Thursday, as the three — belonging to Kashmir and recipients of the Prime Minister’s Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS) for J&K students — were produced before a magistrate, they were heckled by allegedly some unidentified lawyers and their assistants shouting slogans of “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. Police managed to take the students away.
The sedition charge under IPC Section 124-A has now been added against the students, identified as Arsheed Yusuf, Inayat Altaf Sheikh and Showkat Ahmed Ganai, at the Jagdishpura Police Station. They earlier faced charges under IPC Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between groups), 505 (1) (B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to any section of the public) and 66-F of the Information Technology Act.
Their institute, Raja Balwant Singh (RBS) Engineering Technical College, has rusticated them, while demanding action against the outsiders who had forced their way into the campus and protested against the three.
The families of the three students appealed to the UP government to drop the case against them and “forgive them for their mistake”.
Yusuf’s father died in a road accident in 2008, and his mother works as a daily farm wager. The third-year student of BTech in Civil Engineering has two sisters, in Classes 10 and 12. The family is based in Budgam.
Yusuf’s maternal uncle Latif Ahmad said: “Yusuf is the only hope of his mother. He had received the PMSSS scholarship on his own, and worked hard to reach where he is. Now, everything looks bleak.”
Urging the UP government to withdraw the charges, Ahmad said: “His career and future will be ruined by the case.”
The family of Ganai, 20, a fourth-year BTech Civil Engineering student, said he had always had an excellent academic record and had recently landed a job with a private company. “We were so happy. Recently, the college gave him an award for his performance in the three years in the course… We got to know through social media that he had been arrested. It has broken all of us,” said Ganai’s elder sister Fancy Bano, who is an intern at a Bandipora hospital.
The family, which lives in Bandipora, includes Ganai’s parents and his three elder siblings, including another sister and a brother. Their father Mohammad Shaban Ganai works as a labourer.
Fancy also sought the government’s “forgiveness”. “Showkat made a mistake, but the government should forgive him. We are waiting for him,” she said.
The family of Inayat Sheikh, who is in third year of Civil Engineering, and also from Budgam, could not be reached.
Jagdishpura SHO V K Singh told The Indian Express, “The three students have been sent to jail for 14 days on remand. When they apply for bail, it will be heard by the court.”
About the heckling on the court premises, Singh said, “There were some lawyers and assistants who raised slogans and tried to beat up the students. We had officers posted there, who ensured their safety.”
The SHO said he didn’t recognise those who tried to attack the students as he had only been recently posted to the area. “The court premises are anyway filled with lawyers.”
J&K Students’ Association spokesperson Nasir Khuehami urged CM Adityanath to drop the sedition charge against the three Agra students and take action against those who had heckled them. Saying the parents of Kashmiri students were worried, Khuehami said: “These incidents may increase the sense of insecurity and anxiety among Kashmiri students studying outside as well as among their parents and relatives in Kashmir. We urge the Centre and state government to ensure adequate security for their safety.”
Speaking to The Indian Express on Thursday, RBS Engineering Technical College Director (Academics) R B Khushwaha said it was wrong to say that anti-India slogans had been raised by any student on the college premises. “On Tuesday, some people came and created a ruckus, despite us taking action and the students apologising… On Sunday, after the match, some students had uploaded some status on social media. Subsequently, we sought a reply from the students and took action against them. They had apologised on social media as well saying their intention was not to hurt anyone’s sentiments,” said the Director.
While the FIR against the students, filed by a Gaurav Rajawat, claimed they raised anti-national slogans, Khushwaha said: “I don’t know who these outsiders were. No anti-India slogans were raised. For that matter, no slogans were raised about anything. These outsiders came to create a ruckus and hence are making these false claims.”
Khushwaha said the college has written to the administration seeking security as well as action against those who entered the premises forcibly on Tuesday.
The RBS Educational Group was started by Raja Balwant Singh, the King of Awagarh in Etah, in 1885 as a school, and has since grown. RBS runs seven colleges in UP, looked after by Singh’s family members.