Families of Kashmiris jailed in UP for celebrating Pak victory seek justice

Family members of Showkat Ahmed Gania stage protest in Press enclave. Photo: MalikMaktoob

Three Kashmiri students of Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical campus, in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, were arrested on Wednesday for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s win over India in the opening T20 world cup match.

Arsheed Yusuf, Inayat Shiekh, and Showkat Ahmed Ganie were charged with promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion, and cyber-terrorism.

Back home, families are going from pillar to post in search of justice for their wards. The Ganie Family of Bandipora is in deep shock and despair over the sudden incarceration of their son Showkat Ahmad one of the three arrested students of Raja Balwant Singh College in Agra.

His father is in deep depression and seems to have given up the “hope to live”.  

Following the arrests, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s office tweeted on Thursday morning: “those celebrating Pakistan’s win will be charged with sedition.”

“It’s totally agonizing. My son has never played or watched a cricket match back home in Kashmir. I am gravely concerned about my son’s safety. I don’t have money to go and visit my son. The government of Kashmir must step in to save the future of our children’s. He should be forgiven and given the chance to live freely,” said Mohammad Shabhan Ganie labour by profession.

In Chakpora village of Chadoora, Budgam, suffering is not new to the family of orphan boy Arsheed Yusuf who has already lost his father in a road accident outside his home many years before.

Family of Kashmiri engineering student Inayat Sheikh resident of Dooniwari Chadoora. Photo: Sajad Hamid/Maktoob

“My son is very hardworking and used to remain confined to his study,” says Haneef Bano mother of Arshid, who over the years has worked by leaps and bounds to get her only good education.

“Arshid is the only hope of her family, they are living in an abject poverty those who have arrested him should realize the pain of his widow mother,” says Bilal Ahmad uncle of Arshid Yusuf.  

On Thursday, the trio was attacked outside a court in Agra by Hindu nationalist groups, including lawyers. Videos from outside the court show a group of men heckling the students and shouting slogans while the police try to escort them.

Lawyers’ associations in Agra have refused to provide legal assistance to the three Kashmiri students and threatened their colleagues if they come forward.

The three students were booked after a BJP youth wing leader Gaurav Rajawat lodged a complaint against them for allegedly “shouting pro-Pakistan slogans and sharing posts related to it on social media.

Maktoob has documented four different incidents of police action against Pakistan cricket team supporters.

“The case is very sensitive. Bar association Agra has unanimously decided not to take it. But I am Mathura based,” says Advocate Madhuvan Dutt, the lawyer who came forward to take the case.

“I am in touch with the family. I have not officially taken it up. We will file bail application soon,” Dutt told Maktoob.

Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, had criticized the “crackdown” and called for the immediate release of the arrested students.

Family of Kashmiri engineering student Arsheed Yousuf who was arrested under sedition charges in Agra. Photo: Sajad Hameed/Maktoob

 “Crackdown on Kashmiri students both within J&K and outside is reprehensible. The situation in J&K after two years of suppression should’ve been an eye-opener for GOI and led to course correction. BJP’s pseudo patriotism disregards the idea of India. Release these students immediately,” she tweeted 

The move has aghast many cricket lovers across the valley.

“It is unfortunate that politics and sports are mixing. It is never good for any sport. This will alienate a new generation of digital slavery kept them away from freedom narratives,” said Sajad Ahmad, a cricket enthusiast.

Meanwhile, the family members of Inayat Ahmad sheikh have travelled to Agra on the very next day when the news of their arrest became viral on social media.

“After the match was over, I talked to Inayat almost for an hour everything was normal that time, the next day we came to know three students out of seven from Kashmir has been arrested. Our family members are on their way to Agra where they will meet the students and the rest of the people.”

“These things should not have happened at the early stage of their career. It’s very much unfortunate, we appeal to the government to pardon them and release them on humanitarian grounds,” says Burhan Bhat, maternal cousin of Innnayat.