The Allahabad high court allowed bail application of three Kashmiri students who allegedly raised pro-Pakistan slogans after India lost to Pakistan in the World T-20 cricket match in October last year. A single-judge bench of Justice Ajay Bhanot allowed the bail plea of Inayat Altaf Shekh, Shokat Ahmad Gani and Arsheed Yusuf, the three students of an engineering college of Agra who were arrested by Agra police on October 27, 2021. The order passed on March 30 (Wednesday) was made public on Thursday (March 31).
A first information report (FIR) was lodged against them at Jagdishpura police station of Agra under Sections 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc), 505(1)(B) (with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public) and 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code. The applicants were in jail since October 27, 2021.
As per prosecution case, applicants had raised pro- Pakistan slogans and also sloganeered against India in the aftermath of an Indo-Pakistan match. They also made posts on social media and instigated civil disorder in the country. Applicants’ counsel contend that the applicants have been falsely implicated in the instant case. The case was, in fact, the result of student rivalries over trivial issues. The applicants did not raise anti- India and pro-Pakistan slogans, they said.
“The applicants are young students with a bright future. The trial is moving at a snail’s pace and is not likely to conclude any time soon. The inordinate delay in the trial will lead to indefinite detention of the applicants,” the applicants’ counsel argued.
State government counsel reiterated the prosecution case stated in the FIR. He contended that the state has always welcomed students from all parts of the country with open arms but students cannot exhibit disloyalty to the country and spread disharmony in the society.
The court after hearing concerned parties observed, “The unity of India is not made of bamboo reeds which will bend to the passing winds of empty slogans. The foundations of our nation are more enduring. Eternal ideals bind the indestructible unity of India. Constitutional values create an indissoluble union of India. Every citizen of the country is the custodian, and the State is the sentinel of the unity of India and the constitutional values of the nation.”
“Students travelling freely to different parts of the country in the quest for knowledge is the true celebration of India’s diversity and a vivid manifestation of India’s unity. It is the duty of the people of the hosting State to create enabling conditions for visiting scholars to learn and to live the constitutional values of our nation. It is also the obligation of the young scholars to imbibe and adhere to such values.”, the bench observed.
The court while allowing the applications observed, “In the light of the preceding discussion and without making any observations on the merits of the case, the bail application is allowed.”