M’trs home minister to review FIR: ‘Free Kashmir’ poster

FIR Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

MUMBAI: Political winds change the way law enforcement behaves. Barely a day after an FIR was registered by Colaba police against Mehak Mirza Prabhu for holding up a  ‘Free Kashmir’ poster at the #Occupy Gateway protests, Maharashtra home minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh said that prima facie it does not look like she had any “anti-national intentions.” He also added that he would review the FIR and has asked the police for a report on the investigation. He said he has also asked the police to submit a report on the FIRs filed against other students, including Umar Khalid.  Two FIRs were lodged against Khalid and others, and one against ABVP members, for unlawful assembly.

Meanwhile, the Colaba police on Wednesday recorded the statement of Mehek Mirza Prabhu, who is a Mumbai-based storyteller and performer. Sources said the Colaba police summoned Mehak and she, accompanied by her friend, gave her statement. Though police were tightlipped, sources said she clarified her stand that by hosting the ‘free Kashmir’ placard, she meant to talk about freedom of expression and the basic constitutional rights of Kashmiris.

“Prima facie it doesn’t look like she had any anti-national intentions, so I will be reviewing the FIR. I have also asked the police for a report on the investigations,” Deshmukh said. He also said police will check Mehak’s antecedents before deciding on the future course of action. “We want to know where she got the banner from and what she meant by ‘Free Kashmir.’ We know the curbs imposed in Kashmir today, and she may even be talking about those,” Deshmukh said.

Sources said Deshmukh is under pressure from seniors in his party after the FIRs were registered. NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal has demanded the FIR against Mehak and other protestors like Khalid should be taken back. He said, “There is a difference between Free Kashmir and Azad Kashmir. Everyone knows there is an internet ban in Kashmir and political leaders are under house arrest. The girl has given an explanation. I think the FIRs against the girl and the other protesters were a mistake, and my demand is they should be scrapped after a review,” Bhujbal said. Another NCP leader said the action against the girl and other protesters was like toeing the BJP’s line. “They should have reviewed everything before filing the FIR. There should be a difference between this (Maha Vikas Aghadi) government and the BJP government. We should be on the students’ side,” he said.

Student representatives of the group ‘Mumbai Against CAA’ also met the home minister and housing minister Jitendra Awhad and requested them to withdraw FIRs. Fahad Ahmed from TISS said the students feel wronged with the FIRs, despite having ensured that the protest was democratic, peaceful and lawful. Fahad said the minister has assured them they will discuss the matter with the CM.  IIT-Bombay for Justice, a collective of four students’ organisations, also condemned the FIRs.


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