Kashmiri students who sang Pakistan Zindabad stuck in Karnataka jail for over 60 days due to lockdown

The three Kashmiri students from KLE Institute of Technology in Hubballi had released a video on social media singing Sahir Ali Bagga's Pakistan Zindabad and were jailed almost immediately 
Students who sang Pakistan Zindabad
Students who sang Pakistan Zindabad

When Advocate B T Venkatesh receives a call from Kashmir, he always has this feeling of deep dread and pity. He knows that the caller on the other end is a parent who is worried about his children and wants them back home sooner. Remember the three Kashmiri students from KLE Institute of Technology who were arrested for a video of them singing Pakistan Zindabad and had gone viral? After the Fifth Additional District and Sessions Court in Hubballi rejected the bail plea on March 9, they were sent to the Hindalga Central Jail in Belagavi — where they have remained since the lockdown began.

Venkatesh, who has been appearing on behalf of the expelled students, says, "I got a call from the parents on Monday evening and every time they call, they ask me if there is any way to get their children out of jail soon. As we all know, there are thousands of cases pending and the courts are also shut due to COVID-19 pandemic. These days, only the important cases are being looked into. In the past few days, the High Court has been able to look into only 16 cases. But there is a process to follow even for this."

Can't they get it expedited because they are students? He explains how circuitous the process is, "A lawyer handling the case will write an email to the Registrar who then escalates it to the Chief Justice. If the reasons are genuine, then they consider taking up the case even during the shutdown. We also wrote an email to the Registrar and are waiting for the response. Not just these students, every other sensitive and urgent case is also on hold. There are many people in the prison who have their cases pending in the court. It is a matter of time and hopefully, this lockdown will end on May 3." 

In mid-February, the video of three Kashmiri students singing Pakistan Zindabad song went viral.  Basit Aashiq Sofi, Talib Majeed of Krandigam and Aamir Mohi Uddin Wani were studying Civil Engineering in KLE Institute of Technology in Hubballi. As soon as Principal Dr BS Anami was made aware of this video, he registered an FIR in the Gokul Road Police Station. These three students were arrested and were remanded to judicial custody for more than 15 days.

The Hubballi Bar Association had refused to argue in favour of the students despite the notice from the High Court of Karnataka. Their thoughts were loud and clear that they will not support such 'anti-nationals'. Hence, B T Venkatesh, a lawyer from Bengaluru had come to the rescue of these students and took up the case on their behalf. Since the students had got admissions under the Pradhan Mantri Special Scholarship Scheme for Jammu and Kashmir students, the AICTE has also cut off all financial aid given to them. Their stipend and hostel charges were also stopped. And the college was not sure of admitting them back as the central government bodies decide the same  

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