SRINAGAR—Jammu and Kashmir police have launched a major crackdown against anti-Israel protestors and arrested 21persons including an artist and a cleric for expressing solidarity with the Palestinians.
Police have warned people against what they call attempting to leverage the unfortunate situation in Palestine to disturb public peace and order in the Kashmir valley.
Those arrested include artist Mudasir Gul. Hailing from Padashi Bagh area of uptown Srinagar, he was held for drawing pro-Palestine graffiti. “We are Palestine” graffiti appeared on Srinagar street and later became viral on social media.
Earlier, police arrested a noted preacher from South Kashmir Sarjan Barkati from south Kashmir. Barkati was arrested by Shopian police after his video praying for Palestine in a mosque went viral. Police however gave a different spin to his arrest saying he was held for violating COVID 19 protocols.
Barkati’s arrest comes just six months after he was released from jail. He was arrested by the Mehbooba Mufti government for mobilizing people after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016.
Barkati’s wife Shabroz told a local daily that her husband was arrested from their residence in Reban village of Shopian and taken to police station Zainapora. She said her husband was arrested for giving a brief speech about Palestine.
Jammu and Kashmir Police said they are keeping a close watch on the elements attempting to leverage the unfortunate situation in Palestine to disturb peace in the valley.
“We are a professional force and are sensitive to public anguish. But J&K police has 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. Expressing an opinion is freedom but engineering and inciting violence on the streets is unlawful. All irresponsible social media comments that result in actual violence and breaking of law including Covid protocol will attract legal action. IGP Kashmir urges cooperation of all citizens,” he said in a statement.
At least 145 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air raids on Gaza since Monday. The slain included 41 children and 21 women. Over 11 people were killed in the occupied West Bank amid clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces. More than 1,100, people have been wounded so far.
The fresh conflict began when Israeli forces stormed the Al Aqsa mosque and attacked the worshipers. Hamas retaliated by firing rockets on Israeli positions.