India drops sedition charge for Kashmiri students in cricket row

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Pakistan won their match against India by one wicket on SundayImage source, AP
Image caption,
Pakistan won their match against India by one wicket on Sunday

The Indian authorities in Uttar Pradesh have dropped sedition charges against a group of Kashmiri students for apparently cheering the country's arch rival Pakistan in a cricket match.

But state officials said they would continue to investigate allegations of disrupting communal harmony.

More than 60 students were suspended at the weekend after the Asia Cup match in which Pakistan defeated India.

The students said they only clapped when Pakistan won.

The district magistrate of Meerut city, Pankaj Yadav, confirmed to BBC Hindi that after investigating the complaint they found no evidence to support the sedition charge.

But he said officials would continue to investigate allegations of other offences, including disrupting communal harmony and causing damage to public property.

The sedition charge carries a three-year prison term in India.

Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah promised to speak to the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and intervene on the students' behalf, describing the charge as "unacceptably harsh"

Image caption,
The incident took place in a private university in Uttar Pradesh

The incident happened at the Swami Vivekanand Subharti University in Meerut city on Sunday where a group of students allegedly "celebrated Pakistan's win", leading to arguments with other college mates, reports say.

The university administration then ordered an inquiry and decided to suspend the students as a "precautionary measure".

Some of the Kashmiri students denied any wrongdoing in their statements to the media.

Cricket matches between India and Pakistan are tense, dramatic affairs and are passionately followed in both countries.

Claimed by both countries in its entirety, Kashmir has been a flashpoint for more than 60 years.

The South Asian rivals have also fought two wars and a limited conflict.