World Bulletin / News Desk
Hundreds of students in Indian-held Kashmir protested Friday against the mistreatment of 67 Kashmiri students by Indian authorities.
The students faced charges of sedition, which were dropped on Wednesday night, and were suspended from their university Uttar Pradesh in northern India for supporting the Pakistan cricket team in a match against India.
Despite the withdrawal of the charges, the controversy has exposed the deep fault lines that run between India's state and Kashmir. Critics have also said it highlights the shrinking space for freedom of expression within India's democracy.
The protesters shouted: "Go India, go back; down with Indian democracy; we want freedom," while walking through the streets of Srinagar, Kashmir’s capital city.
Senior Kashmiri pro-independence leader and head of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, Yasin Malik, was also arrested by the police for trying to carry out a protest rally in Maisuma area of Srinagar.
"We had asked the Kashmiri students in all colleges in the Indian Occupied Kashmir to stand in support of the Kashmiri students who have been targeted for expressing their sentiments by just supporting a cricket team," said Ayaz Akbar of Tehreek-I-Hurriyat, the separatist group who called the protests.
The banned Kashmir University Students Union, issued a statement claiming the Indian university's actions were proof that Kashmiris had been suppressed for the past 67 years.
The suspended students, from the Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (SVSU), have returned home but are unsure about their future.
“We cannot go back to the university now. We will be attacked there again and we fear for our lives now,” says Muteeb Majeed, who was studying for a Bachelors degree in Business Administration.
Majeed was one of the Kashmiri students who was watching the cricket match in the common hall on Sunday night, when the incident happened.
“There were about 100 students and the university warden and two security men watching the game. We were about 15 Kashmiri students and we were supporting Pakistani cricket team,” said Majeed. “And when Pakistan won the match, we did cheer and celebrate but that was it.”
The vice chancellor of the university, Dr Manzoor Ahmad, said the students will be suspended until the controversy calms.
“We have to let things cool down and not want the matters to escalate, and so had to suspend the Kashmiri students, even those who were not watching the game but who refused to give their names of the guilt Kashmiri students,” said Ahmad said.Last Mod: 08 Mart 2014, 11:15