Mathura lawyer to defend three Kashmiri students charged with sedition

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Agra: A Mathura lawyer has accepted the brief to represent three Kashmiri students charged with sedition after they allegedly praised Pakistan on WhatsApp after the Indian cricket team’s defeat in a T20 World Cup match in Dubai on October 24.

The Mathura lawyer, Madhuvan Dutt Chaturvedi, has come forward despite Agra lawyers deciding not to contest the case on behalf of the three Kashmiri students.

“Family members of all three Kashmiri students contacted me on Friday evening and asked me to represent their sons currently in Agra jail. I have accepted the brief and would be contesting their case,” Chaturvedi said on Saturday.

He is also the lawyer of Atiq-ur-Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Mohammad Alam who, along with Delhi-based Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan, were arrested in October 2020 while moving towards Hathras to meet the family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman who was gang raped and killed last year.

These four were charged with sedition and under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Differing with the stand of the Agra lawyers, Chaturvedi said, “It is a question of the image that our country carries internationally of a cultured and law-abiding democracy where no one is punished without being provided the opportunity of being heard. We lawyers are proud to be part of the judicial system which is held in high regard and we are all liable to safeguard the values on which our judicial system stands.”

“The lawyers of Agra can oppose me but this would not deter me from keeping alive the values of the judicial system of our great nation,” Chaturvedi said, adding that he would seek bail for all three Kashmiri students at an appropriate time.

The Agra lawyers stuck to their stand that they would not appear for the Kashmiri students. “These three Kashmiri students were studying in the prestigious Engineering College of Agra because of PMSSS (Prime Minister Special Scholarship Scheme), yet they preferred to insult India and praise Pakistan once the result went against India in T20 World Cup match between India and Pakistan,” said Nitin Verma, the division head of Yuva Adhivakta Sangh, a body of young lawyers.

Ajay Singh, a lawyer and convenor of the Jan Manch in Agra, echoed similar sentiments and held that it was the patriotic duty of lawyers not to appear on behalf of those booked for sedition.

The case against the three Kashmiri students was registered on a complaint from Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) leader Gaurav Rajawat on Tuesday last (October 26), who alleged that the three had raised “anti-national” slogans and praised Pakistan after the match on Sunday last. The RBS Engineering College in Agra suspended the three students from the college hostel on Monday. These three students were arrested by the Agra police on Wednesday evening and were sent to jail after being charged with sedition and presented in an Agra court on Thursday (October 28).

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