In India’s financial capital, Mumbai, people came out Monday night to protest against the violent attack at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University; the event was attended by Bollywood celebrities.
While many were there to support dozens of people, including students, teachers and guards, who were injured after masked men and woman, wielding sticks, rods and sledgehammers, broke into the JNU on 5 January, a video and images of a girl holding a poster with ‘Free Kashmir’ written on it in the middle of the protests have triggered a controversy both online and beyond.
Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) questioned the provincial ruling coalition – Shiv Sena and Congress, for allowing what he deemed an anti-India campaign in the state capital.
Protest is for what exactly?— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) January 6, 2020
Why slogans of “Free Kashmir”?
How can we tolerate such separatist elements in Mumbai?
‘Free Kashmir’ slogans by Azadi gang at 2km from CMO?
Uddhav ji are you going to tolerate this Free Kashmir Anti India campaign right under your nose???@OfficeofUT https://t.co/zkWRjxuTqA
Sickening. 'Free Kashmir' poster being raised in a protest against JNU violence at Gateway of India in Mumbai. As @rahulpandita pointed out, this is how leftists become road opening party for Islamists in India. And we remain silent! Will CM Uddhav Bal Thackeray remain mute? pic.twitter.com/qccNbltibs— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) January 6, 2020
The ‘Free Kashmir’ phrase has been used by those supporting the region's independence from India since long before the region lost its semi-autonomy in August 2019. While some read it and hailed it as a sign of protest against the five-month long communication clampdown in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir that was imposed following New Delhi's revocation of the state's decades-old special status, it was condemned for its divisive connotation by others.
They couldn't reach anywhere with #JNUViolence so these retard misguided secular Mumbaikars resorted to #FreeKashmir as if Kashmir is not an integral part of independent India. This is the part of the #TukdeTukdeGang https://t.co/gUE1uK9QSz— Alert Citizen's Voice जागरूक नागरिक की आवाज़ 📢 (@AlertJantaINDIA) January 7, 2020
That's okay but what does this FREE KASHMIR poster got to do with the JNU protests?🤷♂️🤷♂️🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/rfolxsxBCq— Phanishwar Sharma (@Phanishwarji) January 7, 2020
Mumbai Police said on Tuesday that they “have taken serious cognisance of the 'Free Kashmir' poster seen in the protest last night at Gateway of India. We are definitely investigating it.”
The protesters from outside Gateway of India have been relocated to Azadi Maidan by police. Police said the protest was causing a road blockade, adding to the city's perennial traffic woes.
The Indian federal government had revoked Article 370 of Indian Constitution to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status in early August 2019; ever since, the territory has been under a communication clampdown, though it was partially lifted later on.