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Pune’s Shia community stages protest against U.S. drone strike

Protesters listen to a speech during a gathering in Pune condemning the U.S. drone strike that killed Irani commender Qasem Soleimani, on Friday.

Protesters listen to a speech during a gathering in Pune condemning the U.S. drone strike that killed Irani commender Qasem Soleimani, on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Jignesh Mistry

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Protesters condemn Irani commander Soleimani’s death

The city’s Shia community, along with other minority community outfits and political organisations, staged an anti-U.S. demonstration on Friday, protesting the death of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq on January 3.

The demonstration, condemning the killing of the 62-year-old head of Iran’s Quds Force, was also backed by the Bhim Army. While a rally was scheduled, it was cancelled owing to the Pune Police denying organisers permission.

“Our request for a rally was turned down by the Bund Garden police on grounds of law and order. The police said that Section 144 of the CrPC was in force,” said Anjum Inamdar, founder of the Mulnivasi Muslim Manch. The protest was instead held on the premises of Imambara, a century-old Shia shrine in Pune Cantonment.

‘Unlawful assassination’

Hundreds of demonstrators, including minority community members and Shia clerics, carried placards condemning the “unlawful and cowardly assassination of Gen. Soleimani by the Trump administration”. Shouts of ‘Long Live Qasem Soleimani’ rent the air, along with slogans denouncing the U.S.

“The Shia and Sunni communities stand united in the protest against Soleimani’s unlawful murder by the American administration of President Donald Trump. The protest saw the participation of local Iranians in Pune, the Shia community and people from different religious faiths and communities who collectively expressed their sorrow at Maj. Gen. Soleimani’s death,” Mr. Inamdar said.

Claiming that Soleimani had helped India on a number of occasions, Yusuf Baig, president of the Shia Brothers of Pune, said the commander had led an attack on Daesh/IS militants in Tikrit in Iraq and had helped free 40 Indian nurses held captive by the terrorists.

“Furthermore, he had raised his voice against Kulbhushan Jadhav’s indictment on espionage and illegal confinement in Pakistan. Today, not only Iran, Iraq and Syria, but the western world ought to be indebted to Gen. Soleimani for being the scourge of IS … his murder is a setback to Indo-Iranian ties and has made the Middle East and the world a more volatile place, thanks to the recklessness of the Trump administration,” Mr. Baig said.

He said the protest was to strengthen ties between India and Iran.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 10:08:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/punes-shia-community-stages-protest-against-us-drone-strike/article30538500.ece

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