Lahore | A Pakistani court has granted bail to a young die-hard fan of ace Indian batsman Virat Kohli after he spent more than a month behind bars over treason charges for hoisting the Indian tricolour atop his home. The additional district and sessions court in Okara admitted bail plea of 22-year-old Umar Daraz, a tailor by profession who was arrested on January 25, from his home in Okara district, some 200 kilometres from here, in Punjab province.
The Kohli lookalike, who had said he hoisted the tricolour to show his love for the batsman, was accused of acting against Pakistan’s sovereignty and could face up to 10 years in prison or fine or both. Advocates Rizwan and Muhammad Yousaf applied for his bail with the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Asadullah Siraj after district court judge Anique Anwar rejected Daraz’s bail plea on February 18, notwithstanding a police clean chit.
Yesterday, after examining police and judicial case files and hearing arguments of both sides, the court admitted the plea and ordered him to furnish a surety bond worth Rs 50,000, the Dawn reported. Daraz was arrested on a day when India beat Australia in a T20 match in which Kohli scored 90 runs and was adjudged ‘man of the match’. Police raided his home on a complaint that he hoisted the Indian flag on the rooftop of his house and seized the flag along with Kohli’s posters and pictures.
A case under section 123-A of Pakistan Penal Code and 16 Maintenance of Public Order was registered against him. The section 123-A (acts of damaging the sovereignty of the country) carries maximum punishment of 10 years in jail or fine or both. Daraz said he had no idea that he committed a crime, urging the authorities concerned to pardon him as he should be seen as an Indian cricketer’s fan and not a spy. 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, he had said.
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