Srinagar, Kashmir operated by India – Police in India’s Kashmir state have arrested at least 20 people, including a strong religious leader who prayed for Palestine and an artist who wrote graffiti in collaboration with the Palestinian people.
A 32-year-old family member, Mudasir Gull, an artist in the capital city of Srinagar, has criticized district officials for restricting the freedom of speech of artists.
“Why have you arrested him? What has he done? Has the government banned skills here? ”His sister Muzamil Firdous asked.
“When the whole world wakes up against the atrocities of Israel, we cannot speak, we cannot do art; what democracy do we live in? Can’t we express our grief in Palestine?” Firdous told Al Jazeera.
The Kashmiris took to the streets after Friday prayers in support of Palestine, hoisting their flags in protest of the Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and the brutal attacks on Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and Israel.
At least 174 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 40 children, sparking a series of international protests.
Can we not express our grief in Palestine?
But security forces in Kashmir, one of the world’s most militant groups, have moved quickly to end the protests in an area where anti-India ideology remains. In August 2019, the Hindu government in India abolished autonomy in the region and established security for what could prevent protests.
The Gull family said they met with a group of young people on Friday to paint a picture. “He told my brother, and I showed him the agreement. He assured him that it was not against India or there would be no word,” Firdous said.
The 32-year-old actress was arrested and charged with defamation of a cartoon depicting a crying mother and waving her Palestinian flag over her head. Postings saying “we are Palestine” were widely distributed on social media.
“She is talented. We are amazed at the arrests for his work. We do not want the government to ruin her life, painting is her life, ”Firdous told Al Jazeera.
The family says Gull has serious health problems and will not be in jail for as long as COVID-19 was started.
‘Imprisoned for Prayer’
Among the 20 arrested are a religious leader, Sarjan Barkati, from the Shopian region south of Kashmir. He was arrested after announcing prayers and prayers for Palestinians in a mosque, his family said.
Barkati was arrested in 2016 when he led protests against the assassination of a terrorist chief, Burhan Wani, and Indian soldiers. Thousands of people have been killed in the decades since the uprising against the Indian government.
My friend, a talented artist in Kashmir a Mudasir Gul has been convicted by the PSA (Public Safety Act) and the Indian govt for painting artistic aids to Palestine.#freemudasirgul#freedom of speech#alirezatalischihttps://t.co/mkx9YhkUy7 pic.twitter.com/jlqiSN2R2D
– Mir Suhail (@mirsuhail) May 15, 2021
The region has been exhibiting and supporting through Palestinian art and literature for many years. In some parts of the ancient city of Srinagar, inscriptions supporting Palestine can still be seen on shutters, on the streets, and on walls.
Since independence in Kashmir in 2019, the region has been under intense government pressure to secure any public demonstrations. Although Kashmir has been remarkably calm for the past year and a half, the controversy that has erupted has led to several protests in recent months.
“We know there are a lot of angry people. “What we have seen in the past shows that there is a need for a cause to come out and the cause can be anything,” a police officer told Al Jazeera anonymously.
“While these joint protests can lead to major segregation protests. That is why we do not want to take advantage of this opportunity,” he said, referring to leaders who promote their rights as separatists.
Kashmir rebel groups and freedom fighters want independence from India or their alliance with Pakistan. India has condemned Pakistan for fighting the insurgents – Islamabad’s case has been denied.
‘O oppressed Palestinians’
Shabroza Jan, 30, the wife of an arrested Shopian cleric, told al Jazeera that their husbands had been arrested for praying in unison.
“She has done nothing wrong. He just prayed for them (Palestine). Saturday morning, police took him to his home. We tried to meet him but we were not allowed, ”he said.
The video, shot inside a mosque in Shopian, Barkati could be seen praying for Palestine and raising the slogan “O oppressed Palestinians, we are with you”.
Police told al Jazeera that they would not allow any protests in the area.
Although these cohesive protests can lead to major isolation demonstrations.
“We will not tolerate such protests and will not give a reason for the oppressors and the Azadi (freedom fighters) activists to encourage people at this time to take to the streets,” a senior police officer told Al Jazeera to remain anonymous.
Earlier, police in a statement warned of any protests in the streets and said police were monitoring the situation “which is trying to solve the Palestinian problems to disrupt public order and peace in the Kashmir Valley”.
Police in their statement said “it would not allow climate change to lead to violence, lawlessness and chaos in the streets of Kashmir.”
Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a political analyst in the region, said: “Kashmiris has been supporting Palestine since the crisis began.
“Even (Kashmiris) have done the same. The fact that they also understand the pain of defeat has made them more obedient to Palestine than any other region in southern Africa,” Hussain said.
Hussain said India had made a significant contribution to the Palestinian cause after independence in 1947 from the British rule.
“It was the late years of [Prime Minister] Indira Gandhi that he is getting closer to Israel, and now the ruling government is allied with Israel, “he said, adding that the Kashmir government fears that there may be similar conflicts here.