Meerut: Sedition charges against a group of students who cheered for Pakistan in a cricket match against India provoked outrage today, much of it expressed on Twitter.
67 students, all from Kashmir, were suspended on Monday by the private Swami Vivekananda Subharti University in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh.
"Have just spoken to CM UP who has assured me he will personally look in to the matter of the Kashmiri students in Meerut," tweeted Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who described the charges as "unacceptably harsh punishment that will ruin their futures & will further alienate them." (Read)
However, he also described the students as "misguided" and said they should "introspect" because some of them are attending college on the strength of scholarships from the Prime Minister.
India lost the Asia Cup match on Sunday night to Pakistan.
The students, who were escorted out of their hostel by security on Monday, say they were told their suspension was for three days but have not been allowed to return.
"The college never heard our side of the story. Some us were crying as we had no money," said a student who has returned to his home in Kashmir.
"If the Kashmiri students want to come and pursue their education in Pakistan, our hearts and academic institutions are open to them," Pakistan's foreign office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told reporters in Islamabad.
The college has alleged that the students celebrated loudly in the dorm and toted pro-Pakistan slogans, which led to a fight with other students and escalated into vandalism and stone-throwing.
Twitter was bulging with angry comments. "Is it OK to give writers from Pakistan good reviews, or will I face sedition charges too?" posted Sanjay Sipahimilani. "Genuinely curious if I can be booked for sedition for all those cricket games where I supported the Sri Lankan team against the Indian one," tweeted Suhel Banerjee. (Sedition charges for students who cheered for Pakistan: your comments)