Meerut/Srinagar: Around 60 Kashmiri college students studying in Meerut were today charged with sedition by Uttar Pradesh police for cheering Pakistan's victory against India during a recent cricket match, an action that sparked an outrage in Kashmir Valley.
The minimum punishment for a sedition offence is three years and the maximum is life sentence. Separately, Meerut district authorities ordered a magisterial inquiry into the conduct of the students studying at Swami Vivekananda Subharti University.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah slammed the slapping of sedition charge as uncalled for and an "unacceptably harsh punishment" and said it will ruin the future of the students and further alienate them. He asked the UP government to reverse the decision.
Omar, who took up the matter with his UP counterpart Akhilesh Yadav, however, said that what the students did was wrong and misguided.
"Have just spoken to CM UP who has assured me he will personally look into the matter of the Kashmiri students in Meerut," said Omar on Twitter.
Three suspended Kashmiri students charged with sedition by UP police address the media in Srinagar after returning from Meerut's Swami Vivekanand Subharti University on March 6. Pic/AFP
After preliminary investigations, the authorities had expelled 60 Kashmiri students for three days and asked them to vacate the hostel after they cheered for Pakistan in the Asia Cup match and celebrated its victory against India on Sunday.
SSP (Meerut) Omkar Singh said that on the basis of the complaint submitted by University Chancellor PK Garg, unnamed Kashmiri students have been booked under section 124 A (sedition), 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 427 (mischief) of IPC.
District Magistrate Pankaj Yadav ordered a magisterial inquiry and Additional City Magistrate Rambharta Tewari has been given the charge of the case, Additional District Magistrate, Meerut, Satish Kumar Dubey said.
University authorities had set up a disciplinary committee to probe the incident. Around 200 Kashmiri students are enrolled in B.Tech and law courses in the university.
Sedition charge is a non-bailable offence which means the accused cannot be granted bail by the arresting authority. The accused has to approach a court to seek a regular bail.
The opposition PDP in Jammu and Kashmir demanded that the punitive action including sedition charge be dropped and the University authorities apologise to the nation. Ruling National Conference voiced its anger at the action, saying the students have not harmed national integrity.
Two of the students identified as Gulzar and Mateef said the FIR was "illegal" and they had done no wrong and only cheered for a "talented team". They said they won't go back to Meerut without any guarantee for their safety.