As celebrations broke out in Pakistani cities and the streets of London following Pakistan’s historic victory against India in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Champions’ Trophy, their fervour was matched, and sometimes even surpassed, by the revelry in Indian held Kashmir. Supporters of the Pakistani team occupied the streets of major cities like Srinagar and lit up the night with fireworks and slogans in an act that has as much to do with politics as it has to do with cricket.

Whenever India versus Pakistan rolls around, Kashmir is faced with a choice: A de facto referendum. Having been denied their rights to demand an actual referendum to determine their own fates, these matches serve as symbolic one, and over the years this has been one matchup that India has always lost. Support for Pakistan exceeds any that India receives and is consistent across the troubled province. This is a loud and unequivocal statement. In the videos of the events from Kashmir that have surfaced in the aftermath of the match, chants for “azadi” ring out loud and defiant after each wicket and each boundary.

Yet this dynamic is never understood inside India, or even portrayed as such. These are not Pakistani “saboteurs” who are “staging” protests; these are average Kashmiris – from university students to the elderly – whose actions are spontaneous and heart-felt. Their support for Pakistan is a rejection of the oppressive policies employed by the Indian law enforcement over the past decades, not an act of sedition. Yet instead of reflecting on why such a large portion of the province actively roots against the national team and has done so for decades, the Indian media is quick to label the people as traitors who need to be sent back to Pakistan. If the authorities were to consider them as equal citizens for just a second, then perhaps they could try to understand this form of protest.

Where cricket serves to unite us it also lays bare the fault lines between the two states. In the wake of the final there have been numerous positive stories; instances of inter-country friendship in the stands, sportsmanship between the opposing players and the jubilation and harmony of the South Asian diaspora in England. All this this however, must be contrasted with the vitriol spewed by hyper-nationalist ex-players, and the hate on display on social media platforms.

But the biggest story out of this strikes at the heart of this divide – an oppressed Kashmir, seeking freedom from the Indian yoke, expressing it the only way it can, by supporting Pakistan.