An Indian court has released on bail seven Kashmiri students who were arrested under anti-terrorism laws for allegedly celebrating Australia’s victory over India in the Cricket World Cup final last month, a lawyer said on Sunday.
Students of an agricultural college were arrested in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after a student filed a complaint accusing them of using anti-India slogans and cheering for Pakistan at the same time as Australia after the match.
Fully claimed but partially ruled by India and Pakistan, Muslim-majority Kashmir has been the site of a bloody insurgency against New Delhi for decades. In the past, Muslims in the region cheered for opposing teams during cricket matches in India, as a protest against Indian rule.
Local political leaders opposed to the domination of J&K by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said the arrests were a ploy to intimidate local residents using the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). This law regulates incitement to commit illegal activities and is punishable by seven years in prison.
Police dropped UAPA-related charges and an Indian court granted bail to the students on Saturday, according to the students’ lawyer, Shafiq Bhat, and a court order seen by Reuters.
Despite granting bail, the local court imposed conditions that the students be available when required for investigation and that they “not be involved in any anti-national activities”, the order said.
The students are still being tried under other Indian laws related to statements inciting public disorder.
Australia entered the World Cup as underdogs against an all-conquering Indian side, who had won 10 games in a row to reach the final. However India were defeated in the final on 19 November.
India accuses Pakistan of supporting Muslim rebels. Pakistan denies this and accuses India of violating the rights of the Muslim community in Kashmir, a charge India denies.
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