The Kerala Police on Sunday arrested six students for putting up posters in support of Palestine and denouncing Starbucks outside one of the outlets of the coffee company in Kozhikode, reported The Indian Express.

The students put up the posters on January 4 that said “Free Palestine” and “Caution, contents may fund genocide” outside the outlet.

The multinational coffee company has been facing boycotts around the world after Israel’s war on Gaza broke out in early October 2023.

The students are enrolled in the district’s Farook College and are reportedly members of the Fraternity Movement, the student wing of the Welfare Party of India.

The police booked the six students under Indian Penal Code Sections 448 (trespassing), 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause a riot), 427 (causing damage) and 34 (crime committed with common intention).

The case was registered on a complaint filed by the Starbucks staff. While the students were soon granted bail, members of the Fraternity Movement march in protest to the Starbucks outlet against the police action.

The coffee company started facing heat after it sued Starbucks Workers United – the union organising the company’s workers – that had put up a post saying “Solidarity with Palestine!” on its social media handle on October 9.

Although the post was deleted within 40 minutes, its reposts from local Starbucks Workers United branches supporting Palestinians and condemning Israel were still visible.

Starbucks filed a lawsuit against the union on October 18 to stop it from using the company’s name and logo. The company said that it had no official stance on the war. However, Starbucks Workers United argued that its page on X, formerly called Twitter, clearly identifies it as a union.

“Starbucks is seeking to exploit the ongoing tragedy in the Middle East to bolster the company’s anti-union campaign,” Workers United president Lynne Fox wrote in a letter to Starbucks.

The pro-Palestinian posts from the union’s account had angered Israel supporters too. The Republican party representative from Florida, Senator Rick Scott, had called for a boycott of Starbucks.