SRINAGAR- Even as sedition charges have been dropped against the 67 Kashmiri students who were suspended by a private university in Uttar Pradesh for having supported Pakistan’s cricket team in a game against India, they still face a potential threat to their career as they remain booked for causing disharmony and mischief. The students of Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (SVSU) in Meerut were booked by police under Sections 124 (a), 153 (a), and 427 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after they were alleged to have cheered for Pakistan in the Asia Cup cricket match against India. An FIR (no. 113/2014) was registered against them reportedly on the university’s complaint. The uproar in Kashmir valley and subsequent intervention of the J&K government resulted in the police dropping sedition charge against the students. They, however, continue to face charges under IPC sections 153 (a) and 427 for ‘causing disharmony’ and for ‘mischief’, respectively.
Legal experts say the two charges can be detrimental to the career of the 67 Kashmiri students. “These charges can be equally damaging for their career. The students will be prosecuted, the evidences can be manipulated against them, and then they can even be convicted,” senior lawyer Zaffar A Shah told Kashmir Reader, as he questioned the legality of imposing charges on the students. Meanwhile, surprised by the conduct of the authorities and the subsequent filing of charges against them, the Kashmiri students seem reluctant to return to the campus.
“We are not safe in that university,” a group of the students told journalists. They added “The local students (at SVSU) are threatening us every day on the varsity’s Facebook page. They want to kill us, and this is not the first time they have tried to harm us.” So far, the Kashmiri students haven’t been given a chance to speak before the inquiry committee, which the varsity claims to have set up for looking into the matter. As per the Kashmir students’ account, they were given just half an hour to leave the campus on Monday without being heard by the varsity authorities. “The university has acted against us without hearing us. We haven’t been given a chance to speak, and they have already pronounced us guilty. There is not a single word against the local students who actually conspired against us.” the students said.