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News18 » India
3-min read

Let's Stop Controversy Here, Says Mumbai Woman Cornered Over ‘Free Kashmir’ Poster at Rally for JNU

Mehak Mirza Prabhu said that she was not a Kashmiri and was brought up in Mumbai, insisting that the issue has been 'completely blown out of proportion'.


Updated:January 7, 2020, 11:16 PM IST
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Let's Stop Controversy Here, Says Mumbai Woman Cornered Over ‘Free Kashmir’ Poster at Rally for JNU
Mehak Mirza Prabhu said her motive behind holding the 'Free Kashmir' placard has been misinterpreted.

Mumbai: Facing criticism from various right-wing groups, politicians and activists for holding a ‘Free Kashmir’ placard at a protest near the Gateway of India, a Mumbai-based woman on Tuesday said she only wanted to highlight the restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir and had no other motive behind her actions.

Mehak Mirza Prabhu, a storyteller-writer by profession, said her motive behind holding the placard has been misinterpreted and her act been "blown out of proportion".

However, the Mumbai Police on Tuesday evening filed an FIR against her under Section 153(B) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), with the Maharashtra government also ordering a probe into her "antecedents".

"At around 7 pm yesterday, I reached where the protest was happening at the Gateway of India. Like anybody else who believes in democracy, I also joined that protest. We were standing for justice to the JNU students. I saw a bunch of people who were painting placards on every issue like National Register of Citizens (NRC), Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and for JNU students. People were making placards related to several issues, including the NRC and CAA, and then I saw a placard lying on the side which said 'Free Kashmir'. The first thing which came to my mind when I saw that placard was about the basic constitutional rights of Kashmiris," Prabhu said in a video posted on Facebook.

"In the last five months, the basic rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been taken away. If we say they are 'ours', then we should treat them accordingly. They should get the basic rights that we are getting," she said. "They should have the freedom of expression, and with that thought, I had raised the poster."

Prabhu said she was not a Kashmiri and was brought up in Mumbai, insisting the issue has been "completely blown out of proportion".

"I was standing quietly with a flower in my hand. This means we need to make peace together. This was my only intention in holding that placard. The narrative that has been put out in the public is wrong," she said.

The Mumbai-based storyteller underlined that the incident is scary and urged the people to spread the words of what she said and not of hatred.

"They are saying that I’m a member of some organisation and have been paid to stand there. This is completely untrue. The way it has gone, it is very scary. I am a simple person. As a woman, I’m very scared for my safety right now. Spread this side of my story and let's stop it here. Let us not spread the hate. It has happened to me, it can happen to anyone. We should not live in fear," Prabhu said.

The poster held by her was among several others used by protesters at the Gateway of India to condemn the violence on JNU campus two days ago.

Prabhu’s photo soon went viral, triggering a political controversy.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis demanded to know what the protest was exactly about and why slogans of 'Free Kashmir' were raised there.

"How can we tolerate such separatist elements in Mumbai? 'Free Kashmir' slogan by Azadi gang at 2 kms from the CMO? Uddhavji (Thackeray) are you going to tolerate this 'Free Kashmir' anti-India campaign right under your nose???" Fadnavis tweeted on Tuesday.

Maharashtra minister Jayant Patil accused Fadnavis of trying to confuse people by "decoding words" in a hateful manner.

"Devendraji, it's 'free kashmir' from all discriminations, bans on cellular networks and central control. I can't believe a responsible leader like you is trying to confuse people by decoding words in such a hatred way. Is it losing power or losing self control?" Patil said in a tweet.

Responding to the BJP charges, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut made it clear that it would not tolerate if anyone talks of freedom of Kashmir from India.

"I read that those who held the 'Free Kashmir' poster clarified that they want to be free of restrictions on Internet services, mobile services and other issues. It doesn't mean that they advocate freedom from India," Raut said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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