The J&K Police detained a 32-year-old artist, Mudasir Gul, on Friday in the wake of a pro-Palestine protest that broke out in Srinagar’s Padshahi Bagh locality earlier in the day.
A mural was drawn by Mudasir on the gates of a spillover channel of Jhelum river near the locality and it showed the weeping face of a woman, her head draped under a Palestinian flag, with ‘We are Palestine’ written in bold, white letters.
Mudasir also participated in the protest along with other youngsters who reportedly set ablaze an Israeli flag. The video of the protest had gone viral on social media.
Mudasir’s brother, Badr-ul-Salam told reporters in Srinagar that a police team raided their home soon after the video circulated on social media. “They took him to the place where the mural was drawn and asked him to deface it,” Salam said.
The security agencies in the Valley are keenly watching the buzz on social media platforms amid fears that the Israeli bombing of Palestinians in Gaza may “disturb the peace” and trigger “disorder on Kashmir’s streets”.
A handful of peaceful protests have been reported in the past few days in parts of Kashmir. And on Saturday, the Shopian police detained a popular religious preacher, Sarjan Barkati for speaking about the unraveling situation in Palestine.
Barkati’s wife, Shabrooza, said he had delivered a sermon on the eve of Eid in Reban village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district in which he prayed for Gaza and an end to the killings of civilians, including children in the Israeli airstrikes.
“A police party took him away in the (Saturday) afternoon,” said Shabrooza, a homemaker, adding that Barkati, who spent four year in jail after he was arrested in 2016, was released only in October 2020. The couple has two children.
In 2016, Barkati became one of the faces of the massive protest movement in Kashmir sparked by the killing of the Hizbul Mujahideen’s Burhan Wani in an encounter with the security forces.