Too harsh? Virat Kohli's Pakistani fan's bail plea dismissed, despite clean-chit from police

hidden, Feb, 19 2016

Lahore: Notwithstanding a police clean chit, a Pakistani court has dismissed the bail plea of a young die-hard fan of ace cricketer Virat Kohli who was arrested on treason charges for hoisting the Indian flag atop his home.

Umar Daraz, a 22-year-old Kohli lookalike, is facing an imprisonment of up to 10 years for hoisting the Indian flag atop his house in Okara district in Punjab province.

District court judge Anique Anwar announced his verdict on Thursday.

22-year-old Umar Draz, in jail for hoisting Indian flag. PTI

22-year-old Umar Draz, in jail for hoisting Indian flag. PTI

"We are disappointed and will challenge the decision in the session's court," said Daraz's counsel Aamir Bhatti.

Police officer Aziz Cheema told reporters he had said in his report that no evidence was found that Daraz committed "treason".

However, the judge dismissed his bail plea.

Daraz, a tailor by profession, was arrested from his house on January 25 in a village about 200 kilometres from Lahore. The police registered an FIR against him under section 123-A of Pakistan Penal Code and 16 Maintenance of Public Order.

The section 123-A (acts of damaging the sovereignty of the country) carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail or fine or both.

Earlier Bhatti told the court that his client was innocent as he hoisted the Indian flag only to support his favourite cricketer who was playing against Australia at the time.

He said Daraz committed the mistake without knowing the implications. "This is not a case in which someone was hoisting the flag of any country for its love. During football World Cup matches people here used to hoist Brazil and Argentina flags and nobody minds it because the gesture is seen in a sports perspective. This is a similar case."

"I am a big fan of Virat Kohli. I support the Indian team because of Kohli. Hoisting of Indian flag on the rooftop of my house only shows my love for the Indian cricketer," Daraz had said.

He said he had no idea that he committed a crime, urging the authorities to pardon him as he should be seen as "an Indian cricketer's fan and not as a spy."

Large photographs of Kohli were found on the walls of Daraz's house. He was arrested the day India beat Australia in a T20 match and Kohli was adjudged 'man of the match'.

Some civil society activists and journalists have raised their voice for his release and termed his gesture purely that of a sports lover.

PTI

Published Date: Feb 19, 2016 | Updated Date: Feb 19, 2016



Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4493 125
2 South Africa 3395 110
3 England 4097 105
4 Australia 3087 100
5 New Zealand 3114 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 South Africa 5957 119
2 Australia 5505 117
3 India 4717 115
4 England 5645 113
5 New Zealand 5123 111
Rank Team Points Rating
1 New Zealand 1625 125
2 England 1962 123
3 Pakistan 2417 121
4 West Indies 2222 117
5 India 2183 115