If you're in India, you'd better cheer for India. That's the message from authorities in Uttar Pradesh, where police have arrested at least seven people for allegedly celebrating Pakistan's victory over India in Sunday's T20 World Cup cricket match in Dubai. All seven face charges of cyberterrorism and "promoting enmity among groups," reports the Guardian. The state's chief minister, Yogi Adityanath of the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, says sedition charges may also be laid against anyone found to have celebrated Pakistan's win over its archrival.
This comes amid ongoing tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India. Adityanath has been leading an "anti-Muslim campaign involving arbitrary arrests and intimidation" since coming to power in 2017, per the Guardian. Three of the arrested youths are Muslim college students hailing from Kashmir, a disputed territory between India and Pakistan. Members of BJP's youth wing accused Raja Balwant Singh College in Agra of "sheltering traitors" before the school suspended the students on Monday, per NDTV. They were then arrested along with four others in Uttar Pradesh. A teacher in Rajasthan state who added "we won" to her WhatsApp status was also arrested, per AFP.
Yet there have been no reports of arrests related to attacks on Kashmiri students following the game. A spokesperson for the students association in India's Jammu and Kashmir region told Al Jazeera that at least 14 students were attacked, seven of whom suffered serious injuries. "I feel unsafe in India," one student in Punjab state told the outlet, claiming a mob attacked three of his friends. "What happened to us is really, really wrong," he added. "Supporting any team is an individual's choice." Police said they weren't aware of any such attacks.
Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, where many residents favor a merger with Pakistan, has called for the immediate release of those arrested, per NDTV. "BJPs pseudo patriotism disregards the idea of India," she said in a tweet. Meanwhile, rights activist Kavita Krishnan is questioning why members of India's cricket team haven't come to the defense of lone Muslim player Mohammed Shami, who's suffered online abuse, per Al Jazeera. The team kneeled in support of the Black Lives Matter movement prior to the match. So "why can't you tell your own government that Muslim lives matter and Kashmiri lives matter?" Krishnan asks. (Read more India stories.)