New Delhi: Fifteen men arrested by the Madhya Pradesh police for allegedly raising pro-Pakistan slogans to celebrate Pakistan's victory over India in the Champions Trophy final last week have been granted bail.
The police had initially charged the men with sedition, which is punishable with a life term in prison and is non-bailable. But the sedition charge was later dropped and the men, all Muslims and from the same village, Mohad, were charged with disturbing communal harmony.
The police's case has now been challenged by Subhash Koli, also a resident of the village, on whose complaint the police said they had filed a first information report or FIR against the 15 men. The FIR alleges that the young men burst firecrackers, raised pro-Pakistan slogans and distributed sweets during the cricket match and after Pakistan's win.
Subhash Koli has told court in a statement that there were no celebrations or sweets distributed and nor were pro-Pakistan slogans raised in the village. The police, he has alleged, used his phone to call in a false complaint and tricked him into signing a written complaint. He has been hiding since the weekend, alleging harassment by the police.
All 15 men, aged between 19 and 35, were lodged at the Khandwa District Jail for more than a week after a court rejected their bail applications a day after they were arrested.
Amid widespread criticism of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's Madhya Pradesh government for what civil society activists called "abuse of the law," the police had on Friday dropped the sedition charge.