An advocate for three Kashmiri students arrested in February in Bengaluru Rural district on charges of sedition and assault following a fight in their college hostel over alleged comments made against the Indian Army after the Pulwama terror attack, will press for an early hearing of their bail plea in the Karnataka High Court next week.
“Our bail plea was rejected by the lower court. An appeal has been filed in the High Court. The case has not come up for hearing. We will press for an early hearing next week,” advocate Muzamil Mushtaq Shah, also from Kashmir, who represented the students when they filed for bail in the Bengaluru Rural sessions court, said.
The three students, Haris Manzoor and Gowhar Mushtaq from Spurthy College of Nursing, and Zaqir Maqbool from Chinai College of Nursing located on the outskirts of Bengaluru, were arrested on the basis of a complaint filed by Spurthy Nursing College principal Babu Dharmarajan after a brawl in the hostel over alleged anti-Army social media posts by the students.
The students have been languishing in prison since February 16. Their bail plea filed through advocate Mushtaq Shah was rejected on March 19.
Former IAS officer Shah Faesal tweeted Saturday: “Three Kashmiri students Zakir, Gowhar & Haris are in Central jail Parampara, Bangalore for last two months. Their crime — a FB post after Pulwama attack! It is a shame that no senior lawyer from Bangalore has so far helped in getting them bail.”
According to the principal’s complaint, the fight between the Kashmiris and other students began after pro-and anti-Army messages were posted on Facebook after the Pulwama attack by two sets of students. The Kashmiris were accused of attacking third-year general nursing student Koushik Debnath in the hostel on February 15.
After Debnath posted on Facebook praising the Army, the students from Kashmir allegedly responded “calling them dogs, soldiers running here and there for money”, says the FIR. “For sending messages abusing our Indian army and disrupting national integration I request you to take appropriate legal action,” the complaint said.
Suryanagar police in the Anekal taluka of Bengaluru Rural district registered a case under Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, for supporting an unlawful activity, and under IPC Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between groups), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), and 504 (provoking breach of peace).
Rejecting the Kashmiri students’ plea for bail, the principal sessions judge court said, “Taking into consideration the highly dangerous nature of the content uploaded by the accused/petitioners on their Facebook wall, grave nature of the offences alleged and also on account of the fact that such activities are calculated to cause damage to the integrity of India and create disaffection against India in the minds of people, I am of the view that the petitioners are not entitled to be granted bail.”