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Families of Kashmiri Students Booked With Sedition Waiting for Their Return
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Families of Kashmiri Students Booked With Sedition Waiting for Their Return

“Release my son, if he has committed a mistake, I apologize on his behalf,” says the mother of one of the students.


SHAHGUND (BANDIPORA) — With a wrinkled face, Hafeeza Begum, 44, appears older than age. She is inconsolable and calls for her son repeatedly. She folds her hand in front of everyone visiting her home, making desperate pleas for the release of her son, who was arrested recently for allegedly supporting the Pakistan team in a cricket match.

“Release my son. If he has committed a mistake, I apologize on his behalf.” Begum is the mother of Showkat Shaban Ganie who is under arrest in Agra for charges under Sedition.

On 26 October, Raja Balwant Singh Engineering Technical College in Agra city of Uttar Pradesh suspended three Kashmiri students, allegedly for taking to social media to cheer for the Pakistan team’s victory over India in the T20 World Cup match on Sunday.

Ganie, 25, a final year B. Tech student is a resident of Shahgund village in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. He was booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) along with two other Kashmiri students—Arshid Yusuf, a resident of Chadoora in Budgam and Inayat Altaf Sheikh, a resident of Dooniwari in Budgam.

The trio have been booked under IPC Section 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups), 505 (1) (B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) and section 66 F of the Information Technology Act. They were arrested by UP police from their hostel rooms.

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Ganie’s distraught family also protested in Srinagar’s Press Enclave on Friday. Accompanied by neighbours, his parents appealed to Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to intervene in the matter.

Begum said Ganie would call home every day around Maghrib prayers and greet us. On Wednesday evening, Showkat called his father but did not greet. He seemed disturbed. “I along with two other Kashmiri students have been booked by police without any reason. We are worried and fear we will be arrested tonight,” Ganie told his mother.

“It broke us all into tears,” Begum said. “We could not sleep the whole night, our eyes swelled with tears.”

The next morning, neighbours started visiting Ganie’s home in Shahgund, informing them that their son had been booked.

Mother of Showkat Shabana Ganie. / Sajad Gul for Mountain Ink.

Ganie’s mother has not eaten a proper meal since the news came. “We are scared. They are ruining my son’s life and career. He is innocent and does not deserve to go to jail,” Begum said.

Ganie’s father Muhammad Shaban said that since Tuesday they have not spoken to him. “We don’t know where he is,” he said with teary eyes.

Ganie has been studying outside Kashmir since 2017. His family said that he has never indulged in activities that would invite trouble. “Still, if he has committed a mistake, we seek an apology from the UP government on his behalf.”

He had also applied for various government jobs and was busy in preparations. “For Allah’s sake, release him,” Fancy Jan, 20, his sister said.

Jan appealed to the Jammu and Kashmir government as well as the UP government to release her brother on humanitarian grounds.

The neighbours in Shahgund remember Ganie as a brilliant student who would teach “poor students” during winters.

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“Showkat is innocent. He is the light of our village. He has taught my kids since childhood. It is painful to hear that he has been booked under UAPA,” Shameema Begum, a neighbour of Ganie said.

Immediately after their arrest, Agra Lawyer’s Association withheld legal assistance to the trio. “We will not provide any legal help to those who are involved in an anti-national activity or anti-social activity,” Nitin Verma, President of the Young Lawyers’ Association, told news agency PTI.

Meanwhile, a Mathura based lawyer has accepted to represent the Kashmiri students charged with sedition. The Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) has offered legal support to the students.

Jammu and Kashmir Students’ Association said that it spoke to APCR and they have agreed to provide a lawyer.

General Secretary of the Association, Younis Rasheed, told Mountain Ink that the Mathura lawyer, Madhuvan Dutt Chaturvedi will fight the case for the trio.

The association has asked the families of the trio to visit Agra and meet the lawyer. It said that students under such harsh and stringent laws on a mere WhatsApp status is not justifiable.

Rasheed said the students have a legal right to be represented, and nobody can deny that right. “Every arrested person is not a criminal, and the court has to prove the crime.”

Meanwhile, Chaturvedi said that the family members of all the three Kashmiri students contacted me and have given consent to represent their sons. “I have accepted to contest the case,” Chaturvedi told Hindustan Times.

“The lawyers of Agra can oppose me, but this would not deter me from keeping alive the values of the judicial system of our great nation,” Chaturvedi said, adding that he would seek bail for all three Kashmiri students at an appropriate time. 

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) leader and former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising concerns about the detention of the three students.

The former J&K CM sought the intervention of PM Modi and urged him to “save the future” of the students who have been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and sedition.

Police on Monday had registered two separate cases under anti-terrorism charges against the staff and students of SKIMS and Government Medical College, Srinagar after two different videos surfaced on social media allegedly showing students cheering the Pakistan team’s win against the Indian cricket team.

However, a fact-finding panel constituted by SKIMS has revealed in its report that students from the institute were not part of the jubilation nor was its premises used to cheer for the Pakistan team against India last Sunday.

The SKIMS director Dr A. G. Ahangar had constituted a five-member team to investigate the allegations. The probe panel was mandated to check the veracity of the video and whether the SKIMS was linked to the controversy.

In its report, the SKIMS fact-finding team has argued that the central hall or the recreation mess in the unmarried hostel as shown in the viral video do not resemble “even by a distance” to the ones at SKIMS premises, News18 reported.

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