In the United States, cheering on a rival sports team while in that team’s territory will get you mean looks and perhaps a punch thrown your way, if enough alcohol is involved.
Per numerous reports, a sizable number of fans were arrested Monday, one day after Pakistan upset India in the Champions Trophy cricket final. Their crime: They were cheering on Pakistan in India.
— In central Madhya Pradesh, police arrested 15 Muslim men on Monday after their Hindu neighbors complained that they were “bursting fire crackers and shouting anti-India slogans,” local police inspector Sanjay Pathak told CNN. They were charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy and could face life in prison.
— In the southern state of Kerala, 23 Pakistan supporters were charged with various offenses, including rioting and unlawful assembly.
— In Bikaner, located in northwest India, five Pakistan fans were arrested. “They have been arrested for disturbing peace. They were shouting slogans in favour of Pakistan,” a police spokesman told India Today.
According to Al Jazeera, this is nothing new, as fans on both sides of the India-Pakistan border have been arrested for illegal cheering since the two countries starting playing cricket against each other in 1952, five years after Pakistan was split off from India as a Muslim state in 1947. Three years ago, at least 66 students in India were arrested on sedition charges for cheering on Pakistan, though the charges were reduced to “disturbing communal harmony.” Last year, a Pakistani man was arrested for hoisting the Indian flag atop his house after his idol, Indian batsman Virat Kohli, made a century against Australia.
The man, a tailor named Umar Draz, said he only was a fan of Kohli, not India itself.
“I am a big fan of Virat Kohli,” he told the Indian Express. “I support the Indian team because of Kohli. Hoisting of Indian flag on the rooftop of house only shows my love for the Indian cricketer.”
Said Pathak, the police investigator in Madhya Pradesh: “This has been happening for several years, whenever there is an India-Pakistan match. We don’t have any previous cases or official complaints on record but those residing in Mohad have told us that this has happened before.”