India to question Kashmiris over cricket cheering

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LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Dozens of Kashmiri students who cheered for the Pakistani cricket team during a match against India could face sedition charges, police said Thursday.

Authorities were trying to track down the 66 university students for questioning, police officer N.K.S. Chauhan said. The students were expelled and kicked out of their dorms after Sunday's televised cricket match, in which India lost to Pakistan, Chauhan said.

Sedition carries a possible life sentence. Calls to the College of Swami Vivekanand Subharti University, in Uttar Pradesh state, were not immediately returned Thursday.

Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India have fought three major wars since they became independent in 1947, two of them over Kashmir, a divided Himalayan territory that both countries claim. Kashmiri insurgents have been fighting for its independence or its merger with Pakistan since 1989.

India is a cricket-crazy nation, but some Kashmiris refuse to support the Indian team because of deep resentment over Indian rule.

Omar Abdullah, the top elected official in the Indian portion of Kashmir, said Thursday on Twitter the students did not deserve to have charges of sedition brought against them, saying such a move would ruin their future and further alienate them.

Although the university is in the Uttar Pradesh town of Meerut, the expelled students are believed to have returned to their homes in the Indian portion of Kashmir or gone to stay with relatives in New Delhi.

India has come under fresh criticism recently over attacks on free speech. In February, Penguin India blamed "intolerant and restrictive" laws that forced the publishing house to bow to pressure from a conservative Hindu group and withdraw all copies of an American scholar's narrative history of Hinduism.

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