21 booked in Kashmir for ‘anti-Israel street protests’

Spree of pro-Palestine demonstrations and graffiti on the city walls

Published - May 15, 2021 10:38 pm IST - Srinagar

Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Zone) Vijay Kumar.

Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Zone) Vijay Kumar.

At least 21 anti-Israel protesters were booked by the J&K police on Saturday, a day after Kashmir saw a spree of pro-Palestine protests and graffiti on the city walls.

“Twenty people were booked in Srinagar and one in Shopian,” IGP Vijay Kumar told The Hindu .

The J&K police have warned of action against those “elements who are attempting to leverage the unfortunate situation in Palestine to disturb public peace and order in the Kashmir valley”.

“We are a professional force and are sensitive to public anguish. But the J&K police have a legal responsibility to ensure law and order as well. It, however, wouldn’t allow cynical encashment of the public anger to trigger violence, lawlessness and disorder on Kashmir streets,” IGP Kumar said.

The police feared that there was an attempt “to engineer and incite violence on streets”.

“All irresponsible social media comments that result in actual violence and breaking of law including COVID-19 protocol will attract legal action,” the police warned.

The crackdown comes a day after Srinagar’s Padshahi Bagh and Safa Kadal areas witnessed small and non-violent protests. A small group set an Israeli flag afire and wrote pro-Palestine graffiti near a bridge.

Among those booked and arrested included a graffiti artist who drew a crying Palestinian woman and wrote the slogan “We Are Palestine”. The image of the bridge went viral on social media.

According to the family of the artists, the police forced him to erase the drawing by painting it black.

The families of the detained people alleged that the police had carried mid-night raids to arrest those who participated in the protest and even their family members.

A preacher, Sarjan Ahmed alias Sarjan Barkati, from Shopian, was also arrested after he “addressed people during Id prayers” and “prayed for Palestine”.

Police sources said Barkati was arrested for violating COVID-19 related standard operating procedure. The preacher was released in October last year after remaining in jail for around four years.

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