Agra court extends remand of Kashmiri students

3 arrested for allegedly cheering Pakistan’s victory over India in T20 match

An Agra court on Thursday extended the judicial custody of three Kashmiri students, who were arrested for allegedly cheering Pakistan’s victory and sharing pro-Pakistan posts after the India-Pakistan T20 World Cup match, by 14 more days.

The three — Arsheed Yusuf, Inayat Altaf Sheikh, and Showkat Ahmed Ghani — are students of the Raja Balwant Singh Engineering College in Agra.

They were booked under section 153 A (promoting enmity between religious groups), 505 (1)B of IPC, and section 66F of the IT Act by the Agra police on October 25, a day after the match. Later, section 124 A (sedition) of IPC was also added. They were heckled when they were being taken to jail and different associations of lawyers in Agra refused to represent them.

On Thursday, they were produced via video conferencing. A jail official said prisoners on remand were usually presented virtually.

Madhuvan Dutt Chaturvedi, a Mathura-based advocate representing the students, said they didn’t move the bail application because of the “prevailing atmosphere” against the students in Agra. “There are concerns about the safety of the accused and those representing them. We have moved a petition in the Allahabad High Court requesting to transfer the case to Mathura,” he told The Hindu.

Mr Chaturvedi argued that the sections invoked against the students were harsh. “In the Balwant Singh vs the State of Punjab, the Supreme Court ruled that mere words and phrases, no matter how distasteful, do not amount to criminal offence unless they are used to incite mobs for violent action. Moreover, Pakistan has not been declared an enemy country by the government.”

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