Students being booked for allegedly cheering the victory of Pakistan over India in cricket — a charge since dropped — was a report that made one sit up (“J&K students won’t face sedition charge,” March 7). The charge of sedition, under the IPC, relates to a case where offenders/convicts insult the government of India. How on earth can the Union of India justify slapping this law on youth who hail from an already alienated State of India? The incident will only increase the trust deficit between Srinagar and New Delhi. One only had to look at headlines that appeared in the international media to fathom its import — “Kashmiri nationals charged for sedition in Indian state”, was one.
Kashmiri students being booked while rooting for Pakistan over a game! What next? Though it is their right and freedom to cheer for Pakistan, this kind of discrimination, unlike for people from other regions of India, is sure to continue till lumpen elements in India are confident that Kashmiris will not support Pakistan against India in a moment of crisis. This can happen only when Kashmir is not isolated, and its socio-economic development is in tune with that of the rest of the country, followed by proper accountability of the actions of the armed forces in the State. Comprehensive economic integration and fostering of a sense of security will eventually lead to a strong bond between Kashmir and the rest of the country. After this, our border dispute with Pakistan will settle itself.
The incident involving the students and the U.P. police reminds one of the past when the British acted against “Indian mutineers.” Ties between the Kashmir Valley and the rest of India are fragile. Whether the Kashmiri students are victims of “guilt by association” or “guilty” of the purported celebration of Pakistan’s victory despite their democratic right to free choice, it is undeniable that there exists a schism between them and their compatriots from the rest of India on many campuses. Religion being equated with nationalism and the acceptance of Hindu nationalism as the symbol of the national mainstream are problematic and will result in further alienation of sections on the fringes. The Meerut incident underlines that what we need is more of patriotism and less of jingoism and more of humanity and less of religion.
G. David Milton,
Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu
Supporting an actor or sportsperson may be one’s personal choice. But to celebrate the victory of a country that is India’s rival is unpardonable. The students should have exercised better judgment.