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The New Arab

India police arrest 15 Muslim men for celebrating Pakistan's win in Champions Trophy cricket final

Fans in both countries have previously been arrested for supporting the rival teams [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 June, 2017

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Police in central India have arrested 15 Muslim men and charged them with sedition for celebrating Pakistan's victory over India in the Champions Trophy cricket final.

Police in central India have arrested 15 Muslim men and charged them with sedition - punishable by life in prison - for celebrating Pakistan's victory over India in the Champions Trophy cricket final, local media reported.

The men, aged 19 to 35, were arrested in Madhya Pradesh state's Burhanpur district after locals complained that they shouted "anti-India and pro-Pakistan" slogans and lit firecrackers after Pakistan thrashed title-holders India by 180 runs to win at The Oval in London.

"We received a complaint from a local Hindu man who accused them of celebrating after India lost the match," Burhanpur police chief Raja Ram Parihar told AFP.

The accused have also been charged with criminal conspiracy, the officer said, adding the celebrations continued for hours in the village, which has a 60 percent Muslim population.

The men were presented before a court on Tuesday and sent to jail pending trial.

In India, sedition is an offence which may result in the surrender of passports, ineligibility for government jobs, and even life imprisonment.

Human Rights Watch has called on the Indian government to abolish its sedition laws, which are often used to target dissenters, human rights activists and those critical of the government.

South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan have a history of hostile relations - and have a famous rivalry on the cricket pitch as well.

During the frenzied celebrations on Sunday in Pakistan, a 15-year-old was killed after he was struck by a bullet from celebratory gunfire.

Cricket fans in both countries have been arrested in the past for supporting the rival teams or players.

Around 60 students from India were arrested on sedition charges after they were accused of celebrating Pakistan's victory over India in 2014.

Last year, a Pakistani man was arrested for waving an Indian flag after his idol, Indian batsman Virat Kohli, made a match-winning century.

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