ALLAHABAD: In an order granting bail to the three Kashmiri students arrested on sedition charges for their comments following the Indo-Pak T20 World Cup match in October last year.
The three were studying at an Agra engineering college under the PM Special Scholarship Scheme (PMSSS).
Arsheed Yusuf, Inayat Altaf Sheikh and Showkat Ahmed Ganai have spent the past five months in the Agra District Jail, after they were arrested on October 26 for comments made following Pakistan’s victory over India.
In his order, Judge Ajay Bhanot said: “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.”
The fact that people were travelling long distances within the country for education was something to celebrate, the court said. “Students travelling freely to different parts of the country in quest of 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 hoisting state to create enabling conditions for visiting scholars to learn and live the constitutional values of our nation. It is also the obligation of young scholars to imbibe and adhere to such values.”
The court quoted three lines from poet Alama Iqbal’s song ‘Saare Jahan Se Acha Hindustan Hamara’ to stress on the “constancy of Indian values and perpetuity of Indian people”.
The judge also said that the court is entertaining the bail application directly. “There are exceptional circumstances for doing so. It is informed that the Agra District Bar Association had passed a resolution for not providing any legal assistance to the applicants. The applicants were also assaulted in the District Court at Agra.”
The court said: “Lawyers have an oath inscribed in their conscience to assist the cause of law under all circumstances and to serve justice to all those who seek it at all times.”
The students had been booked under IPC Sections 124 A (sedition), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) and 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 66-F of the Information Technology Act, for allegedly sending WhatsApp messages “against the country” after the cricket match.
The charge sheet had been filed under the same IPC sections.
Welcoming the bail, Madhuvan Dutt, a member of the accused’s legal counsel team, said: “We thank the Honorable Court for looking at the merits of the case since the students do not have any criminal background and hail from poor families. The students will finally get to go home.”
Nasir Khuehami, the spokesperson for the J&K Students’ Association which has been assisting the students in their legal battle, said: “The three have suffered a great deal, from being roughed up at the Agra Sessions Court to facing recurrent delays in hearing of their case. The bail order has restored and reposed the faith of common man in the judiciary.”