Islamabad: The Pakistani fan of Indian cricketer Virat Kohli, who was arrested for hoisting an Indian flag, was granted bail by a court in the country's Punjab province.
The additional district and sessions court in Okara admitted the bail plea of Umer Daraz, who has been behind the bars for over a month, Dawn online reported.
Daraz was arrested on January 25 for hoisting an Indian flag on the rooftop of his house, Dawn online reported. A magistrate, Aneeq Anwer, had rejected his bail plea on February 18. Later, a fresh bail plea was filed in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Asadullah Siraj.
On Friday, the court admitted Daraz's bail plea and ordered him to furnish a surety bond of Rs.50,000. By the time the hearing ended, it was time for the court time to rise so Daraz will submit the bond on Saturday and get bail.
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, Daraz's counsel Aamir Bhatti had 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 had raised their voice for his release and termed his gesture purely that of a sports lover.
IANS & PTI inputs