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Charged with sedition – for cheering the wrong side at cricket

Back in 1990 the Conservative MP Norman Tebbit got a lot of stick for his “cricket test”. Amateur. They play that game more seriously in India. The Hindustan Times reports,

‘Those celebrating Pak’s victory will face sedition case’: Yogi Adityanath

Chief minister [of the state of Uttar Pradesh] Yogi Adityanath on Thursday said that the sedition charges will be invoked against those celebrating Pakistan’s victory against India in the recent T20 World Cup match.

“Those celebrating Pakistan’s victory will face sedition,” a tweet posted on the official handle of Adityanath’s office said.

The Pakistan cricket team on Sunday defeated the Indian side by 10 wickets in a Super 12 game in Dubai for their first win in 13 attempts over their arch-rivals in a World Cup match.

A senior police official said a total of five cases were registered against seven people in Agra, Bareilly, Budaun and Sitapur for allegedly using indecent words against the Indian cricket team and celebrating Pakistan’s vicory. He said one case each was lodged in Agra, Budaun and Sitapur while two cases were registered in Bareilly’s Izzatnagar police station.

The three Kashmiri students were produced in the court of the special chief judicial magistrate on Thursday. The court sent them to 14 days’ judicial custody. “During the course of the investigation, section 124-A (sedition) was added against these three Kashmiri students,” said PK Singh, the inspector in charge of Jagdishpura police station.

The report continues,

In Budaun, the FIR was lodged under IPC section 124 A for sedition and section 66 of the IT Act against one person at the Faizganj Behta police station.

“Sedition charges should not be invoked in case of cheering in sports. No violence happened in these cases. England had been our bigger and worst enemy ever. But many times people in India do laud England’s team or players.”, said a Samajwadi Party leader on condition of anonymity

The (wisely) anonymous speaker may have been prompted to mention India’s relatively friendly cricketing relations with England by the fact that, as the article says, most of the accused were charged under the notorious Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code. In 1922, Gandhi was imprisoned by the British under Section 124A and referred to it as the “prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen”. Ninety-nine years have gone by, seventy-four of them with India as an independent nation, and the prince remains in power.

13 comments to Charged with sedition – for cheering the wrong side at cricket

  • Dave

    Is that where the phrase “that’s not cricket” comes from?

  • Paul Marks

    Norman Tebbit was making an ANTI racist point – his point being that it does not matter what colour someone’s skin is, what matters is what they are loyal to (their beliefs – not their skin colour).

    The fact that he was promptly denounced as a “racist” (for making an ANTI racist point) showed that the word “racist” was already just a “boo term” used by the left to attack anyone they disliked.

    As for India and Pakistan – they have been a war several times, and Pakistan (specifically the military intelligence service of Pakistan, which backed the Taliban in Afghanistan) organises terrorist attacks in India.

    Of course someone should be able to cheer Pakistan in cricket – charging people with an offense for this is wrong.

    However, if I was an Indian and I found out that another Indian citizen supported Pakistan I would, obviously, never trust that person. I would never support them being in a position of trust, and I would be careful around them.

    It is nothing to do with race – it is a matter of loyalty.

    Say you were a citizen of Athens during its rivalry with Sparta – and you found out that another citizen was an ardent admirer of Sparta. You should not prosecute this person – but you should take careful note of the matter.

    And such people did exist in Athens – essentially they were a 5th column in the 5th century B.C.

  • Paul Marks

    To give another example – let us imagine a situation with some British people in the 1930s supporting German teams in sporting events against British teams, not because they were personally related to a German sportsman (“Come on Uncle Heinrich!”), but because they preferred 1930s Germany to Britain – politically.

    Would you not be concerned?

    The situation is more (not less) tense with India and Pakistan. Germany in the 1930s, in spite of its many faults, was NOT organising terrorist attacks in Britain – Pakistan (specifically its military intelligence service) does organise terrorist attacks in India.

  • Mr Ed

    I read this, and at first thought that it must be about Kashmir, where a Muslim majority lives under Indian (effectively military) rule. But no, it is about Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s States. I confess that I know little about the Indian Federation, and the limits of State and Federal powers, but it seems to me that Uttar Pradesh is not a State in peril of annexation by Pakistan in even the wildest fantasy of a paranoid nationalist.

    Given my lack of enthusiasm for Euro 2020(1) and the England team, I suspect that I would have faced similar charges had our Minister for Culture, Mussolini and Sport taken a similar line last summer. The wording of S124A linked to is wording essentially from Victorian times

    Section 124A. Sedition

    Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine.
    Explanation 1.—The expression “disaffection” includes disloyalty and all feelings of enmity.
    Explanation 2.—Comments expressing disapprobation of the measures of the Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.
    Explanation 3.—Comments expressing disapprobation of the administrative or other action of the Government without exciting or attempting to excite hatred, contempt or disaffection, do not constitute an offence under this section.

    It has a remarkably modern ring to me, depressing that the seeds of our modern ‘hate crimes’ (as opposed to ‘like crimes’) is actually there back in the 19th Century. The rot really runs deep in the UK. It is good to read that some State courts ruled it unconstitutional post-independence, the Federal High Court sticking its oar in to limit that. I note the evil use of ‘or otherwise‘ which is intended to cover anything, evil, evil, evil. ‘bringing in contempt for the government’ does not, ever, merit any legal sanction whatsoever, except when that is done by State employees or government politicians.

  • In the days of empire, the English idea of sport as apolitical – as a way for rival communities to let off steam in non-lethal competition – was strongly pushed. The idea that sport could be apolitical had perhaps some overlap with the idea that speech could be free. In various ways, sport is getting more political, and speech less free, in the English-speaking countries. This is a real loss. I think it will likewise be a loss if such of the idea as had taken root in the Indian sub-continent starts to die there too. But I suspect the apoliticisation of sport could not easily survive the politicisation of everything else – and the history of the Roman empire shows that if laws suppress political speech, sport may become a proxy for it.

  • Paul Marks

    Niall – good comment.

    Mr Ed – fellow countrymen supporting the enemy (the enemy in many wars – and the enemy who organises attacks right now) does upset Indians. But I agree with you that no one should be arrested for doing it.

    By the way – terrorist attacks are most certainly not confined to Kashmir.

  • Snorri Godhi

    My experience in the Netherlands in the year 2000 might (or might not) be of interest in this context.

    At the invitation of a Dutch/Lebanese friend (a former student of mine), i joined him and his Arab friends in a pub to watch the semifinal of Euro 2000 between the Netherlands and Italy.
    All of them were all in for the Dutch team. They even suspected me of double loyalty when they learned of my Italian background. One of them walked away crying when the Dutch lost.

    (Incidentally, my friend is abstemious, but some of his friends drank beer.)

    But…of course i don’t know whom they would support if the Netherlands played against an Arab country. Especially after Pim Fortuyn and Geert Wilders.

  • John B

    At least in England we were only prosecuted for not wearing a mask or daring to go outside, but we could support whatever sports team we liked… even though we were forbidden from watching them play.

    Thank the Heavens we live in a free Country.

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri – what has being Lebanese or Arab got to do with drinking beer or being loyal to the Netherlands?

    You must know that being an Arab and being a follower of the Islamic faith are not the same thing.

    Islam is a system of theological and political ideas. Muhammed was not “just” a theologian, not that there is anything wrong with being a theologian, he was also a political thinker – and produced both a religion and a system of political rule (they are intertwined in his thought – and in the Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence).

    Being an ethnic Arab has nothing to do with any of this (apart from, perhaps, the special place of the Arabic LANGUAGE – translations of the Koran and the Hadiths being of no legal force to a follower of Islam). Islam is not a race or ethnic group – it is a system of theological and political ideas.

    One of the ideas of Islam is opposition to drinking alcohol (generally speaking, there are exceptions to this rule – for example trying to pass for a non Muslim in a military operation, then it is permissible to drink alcohol), another idea of Islam (indeed a central idea of Islam) is to support those who follow Islam against those who do not – especially in violent conflicts.

    However, I suspect this is all really a language thing.

    I do not know Dutch or Italian – I am utterly (and sadly) ignorant of every language bar English. Whereas your English is EXCELLENT – with just very occasional lapses.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Paul: my friend was/is definitely a Muslim and a teetotaller; but it is only a guess that most of his friends were Muslims.

    As for my English: nowadays one finds more examples of good English than of good Italian.

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri will know the following – but other people may not.

    Pim Fortuyn was a Dutch politician who was murdered – he was not a victimiser (not an aggressor) he was a victim (he was aggressed against). One of several people in the Netherlands who have been murdered for opposing Islam.

    Geert Wilders is also a Dutch politician – presently still alive. He has been criticised for saying that the Koran and the Hadiths should be censored (I am utterly AGAINST the censoring of these works – regardless of the level of reliability of the Hadith in question – there are three levels of grading), people who criticise him on this rather miss the ironic point he is making, i.e. that under the laws of Netherlands other works are censored for things that the Koran and the Hadiths also contain.

    Logically either Islamic works should be censored, or the non Islamic works not be censored – I take the latter position, i.e. that no books be censored on these grounds.

  • Paul Marks

    John B – your sarcasm is noted, and fully justified.

    In Texas last week the people voted for Constitutional Amendments that limit the powers of government – as it was noted that (even in Texas) Covid 19 was used as an excuse for the most gross undermining of Civil Liberties – the new Amendments are designed to specifically guard against the danger of this happening again.

    The United Kingdom famously has an “unwritten Constitution” – and as many suspected, this has turned out to mean, as far as Civil Liberties are concerned, NO CONSTITUTION.


    I am sorry that spoken (and written?) Italian has declined – the language of Dante and so many other great writers.

    I did not know this.

    You have saddened me by telling me this – but I thank you Snorri, for it is best to know truth (even if it is grim news).

  • Antoine Clarke

    O tempora! O mores! 😉