Police arrest 3 youth, hunt for 22 others as Pak anthem played during cricket match in Bandipora

The police have arrested three youth and are hunting for 22 others for their alleged involvement in playing of the Pakistan national anthem during a cricket match in Arin village of Bandipora district on January 3.

A case vide FIR number 4/2018 dated 4th January 2018 has been registered in police station Bandipora under section 13 of the unlawful activities (prevention) Act, 1967.

Those arrested were identified by the police as Latief Ahmad, Mudasir and Irfan Ahmad.

“All the three were the organisers of the match,” a police official told Greater Kashmir. The FIR, he said, was registered after a video of the final match of cricket tournament ‘Harmuk sports tournament’ went viral on social media.

“In the video, the players and organisers were seen singing the Pakistani anthem. They were attentive and bowing their heads while the anthem was being played,” the official said, adding that players were seen in two opposite rows. 

The match was played between the teams from Arin and Dardpora villages of Bandipora.

“One of the team players wore green uniform, but nothing was inscribed on it,” the official said, adding that the three youth arrested were identified from the video.

“22 others, including two government employees, have been identified and the hunt is on to arrest them,” the official said.

According to local residents, it was a friendly match where the “anthem was played for enthusiasm and not with any other intention.”

“It was like an international match where national anthems of both countries were played,” said a group of Bandipora residents, who didn’t wish to be named for fear of police reprisals.

Senior superintendent of police Bandipora, Sheikh Zulfikar Azad, told Greater Kashmir that they held a “counseling session” in the village, “but since the act was anti-national, we will be arresting all 22 wanted in the case.”

He admitted that a case was registered soon after the video went viral.

This is not the first incident where cricket teams in Kashmir were booked for playing the Pakistani anthem. In April 2017, a group of Kashmiri cricketers were detained after a video clip surfaced on social media showing them wearing the Pakistani team’s jersey while the country’s national anthem played in the background. However, the youth were let off after questioning.

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