Sunday, May 16, 2021
Web Desk

Artist arrested over ‘WE ARE PALESTINE’ graffiti in India-occupied Kashmir

"What kind of democracy [do] we live in? Can’t we express our grief for Palestine?" sister of 32-year-old artist asks

Web Desk
Picture of the graffiti painted by the artist in Srinagar which has since been removed by the police. — Picture courtesy Al Jazeera/Family of Mudasir Gull

An artist who painted a mural in solidarity with Palestinians was arrested in India-occupied Kashmir, Al Jazeera reported on Sunday.

Besides the artist, 32-year-old Mudasir Gull, 19 others, including an outspoken religious leader who prayed for Palestine, were also arrested.

The family of Gull, who according to the report is an artist based in the main city of Srinagar, said authorities with the move had censored the freedom of expression of an artist.

“Why is he detained? What has he done? Has the government banned art here?” his sister Muzamil Firdous asked.

“When the whole world is waking up against Israel’s atrocities, we can’t speak, we can’t practice art; what kind of democracy [do] we live in? Can’t we express our grief for Palestine?” Firdous told Al Jazeera.

Kashmiris came out on the streets following Friday prayers, waving flags in support of Palestinians as they brave brutal air strikes by Isral on the Gaza Strup and a crackdown in occupied East Jerusalem and Israel.

Since the latest surge in violence, at least 188 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 52 children, prompting an outpouring of support from people across the world, who have been holding frequent protests to demand an end to Israeli aggression.

'Stop bombing Gaza': Thousands rally across Europe in support of Palestinians

In occupied Kashmir, where Muslims have been under siege since Indian occupation forces stripped the territory of its special status, such protests are met with similar aggression.

According to Gull’s family, he was approached by a group of young people on Friday to paint the graffiti. “They told my brother, it is a protest of solidarity. They convinced him that it is not against India or there will not be any such slogan raised,” Firdous said.

"The 32-year-old artist was arrested and made to deface the graffiti that showed a woman sobbing with her head wrapped in the Palestinian flag," Al Jazeera said. The graffiti that read “we are Palestine” was widely shared on social media.

“He is an artist. We are shocked at his detention for doing his job. We don’t want the government to ruin his life, painting is his livelihood,” Firdous told Al Jazeera.

The family told the publication that Gull has health issues and cannot remain in detention for long in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Late Sunday night, reports of Gull's release started doing the rounds on Twitter. The reports could not immediately be verified.