NEW DELHI: Indian police have arrested three Muslim students and a teacher for celebrating the Pakistan cricket team’s crushing victory over arch-rivals India at the Twenty20 World Cup, officials said on Thursday.

The students, originally from India-occupied Kashmir, were taken into custody on Wednesday in Agra city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh for “promoting enmity” and disrupting religious harmony, police inspector Pavindra Kumar Singh said.

The case was lodged after right-wing Hindu nationalist groups barged into the Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical College demanding the arrest of the three students, according to press reports.

Video footage shared on Twitter showed several people described as lawyers shouting “Down with Pakistan, Hail India” as the trio were being led out of court into a police van.

The Times of India said two more people were arrested for displaying pro-Pakistan slogans in Uttar Pradesh.

The office of Uttar Pradesh’s Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted on Thursday that “those celebrating Pakistan’s win will be charged with sedition”.

Adityanath’s office had ordered state police to take action depending on the circumstances of each case, said state information official Navneet Sehgal, adding that police would decide on the charges based on their investigations.

Also on Wednesday, teacher Nafeesa Attari was arrested in Udaipur in western India for posting “we won” on her WhatsApp status after Pakistan routed India on Sunday in Dubai. She was later released on bail.

Attari, who was also dismissed from her job, apologised for her conduct in a video message, saying she never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments.

“I am an Indian and I love my country. I love India as much as anyone else does. As soon as I realised I have made a mistake I deleted my post,” she said.

The arrests came after police launched an investigation into several hundred students who burst into celebrations in India-occupied Kashmir following the T20 clash watched by millions across South Asia. Police are reportedly looking to book Kashmiris under harsh anti-terror legislation that allows suspects to be held for six months without charge.

Officers also detained for questioning six residents in the Jammu region of the territory after a video emerged on social media showing them supporting Pakistan’s cricket team.

Also in Jammu, a government medical college sacked a female technician on Thursday for celebrating the win on social media.

Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2021

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