Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh on Tuesday said the Mumbai Police will take legal action against writer Mehak Mirza Prabhu for carrying a “Free Kashmir” placard during the protest at Gateway of India on Monday, the Hindustan Times reported.
Prabhu was among the hundreds of Mumbaikars who participated in the “Occupy Gateway” protest on the pavements near the monument to condemn the violent attack on students of Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday night. But the demonstration was called off on Tuesday after the police forced the protestors to move out to Azad Maidan claiming that they were blocking roads and inconveniencing Mumbaikars and tourists.
Deshmukh said the Gateway of India was not a protest venue and added that students who protested there will not be booked by the police. “Police have also spotted a woman protesting with a placard written ‘free Kashmir’,” he said. “We have identified her and will take legal action against her. We have requested the protestors to not carry any such placard that will land them in trouble.”
Prabhu addressed the misinformation spread about her on social media on Tuesday. In a YouTube video, she said the demonstrators had gathered to not only protest against the JNU violence, but also speak in defence of the right to enjoy freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
“Right now, because of the internet shutdown in Kashmir since the last five months, people of Kashmir do not have that right,” she said. “If we believe Kashmiris are like us [Indians], we should also treat them in a befitting manner. They should get the basic rights we are getting. They should have the freedom to express themselves. And that is why I picked up the placard.”
Jammu and Kashmir has not had internet services since August, when the Centre scrapped its special Constitutional status and split it into two Union territories. SMS services and other forms of communications were also stopped on August 5. Some services have since returned but several restrictions are still in place. The Centre, apart from imposing a lockdown in the erstwhile state, also put mainstream political leaders like National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti under house arrest. They have not yet been released.
Prabhu’s placard irked several people, including BJP leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Karnataka MP Tejasvi Surya.
Fadnavis asked Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray how he could “tolerate” such an “anti-India campaign” right under his nose. He said the slogans were raised just 2 km from the chief minister’s office by the “azadi gang” and asked why there were slogans on Kashmir when the protest was about a different matter.
Soon after, Nationalist Congress Party leader Jayant Patil responded: “It’s ‘free Kashmir’ from all discriminations, bans on cellular networks and central control. I can’t believe that responsible leader like you trying to confuse people by decoding words in such a hatred way. Is it losing power or losing self control?”
But Fadnavis accused Patil of advocating “separatist tendencies” and indulging in vote bank politics.
A mob, allegedly comprising members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s youth wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, armed with sticks and hammers, attacked students at hostels in JNU on Sunday evening, leading to injures to at least 34 people, including faculty members.
Later, a group of right-wing activists sloganeering outside the university’s main gate heckled, abused and threatened several journalists who were reporting on the violence. Several eye-witness accounts and videos indicated that in most places, police personnel present at JNU did almost nothing to stop the violence and, in fact, allowed armed and masked goons to exit the university without apprehending them.
Several students alleged that the violence had been perpetrated by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Members of ABVP, however, blamed the violence on “Naxals” and leftist students. However, Scroll.in traced back Whatsapp messages planning the attack on JNU students – as well as celebrating it – to ABVP activists.