After images and videos of a Mumbai woman holding a poster with the words "Free Kashmir" went viral, Mehak Mirza Prabhu claimed it was "intended for peace in Jammu and Kashmir", and apologised for the misunderstanding it created.
Several videos of the Mumbai-based storyteller and performer holding up the "Free Kashmir" poster written in big bold letters at the Gateway of India protest have hone viral. The posters have triggered outrage among BJP leaders and various right-wing groups and activists and netizens asked how can such "separatist elements" be tolerated in the city.
Mehak posts video on Facebook
Mehak posted her video on Facebook and called the reactions crazy and said she was only speaking for the rights of Kashmiris. "I am Mehak, a writer from Mumbai. What happened yesterday is extremely crazy and crazier is the reaction that it is receiving from the people. The narrative being spread about the situation is absolutely misinterpreted."
The placard was seen in her hand on Monday (January 6) evening during the protests in Mumbai to condemn the violence on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus two days ago, triggered a political controversy.
How can we tolerate such separatist elements in Mumbai? Asks Fadnavis
BJP Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis wrote on Twitter: "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???"
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 told media persons.
Nationalist Congress Party Minister Jayant Patil retorted to Fadnavis that the 'Free Kashmir' poster was intended for freedom from all restrictions and discrimination.
On her part, the woman was identified as Mehak Mirza Prabhu, a Mumbai-born who works as a 'story-teller', said that though she had no agenda or motive, she was taken aback by the reactions on social media to the 'Free Kashmir' poster she carried on Monday night.
"The picture created by entire social media came as an absolute shock to me. The placard meant 'freedom to express themselves, freedom from the Internet lockdown which many people have been voicing for'. I was voicing my solidarity for basic Constitutional right. No other agenda or motive whatsoever," said Prabhu.
Reiterating that she was a Maharashtrian, born and bred up in Mumbai, she said: "I am (an) artist who believes in basic human compassion. If by being naive in understanding the impact it would have, and in the process create this stir, I apologise."
Prabhu urged all to let the 'power of love overcome hate', even as a Mumbai BJP-activist lawyer Vivekanand Gupta shot off a message to the Commissioner of Police demanding her arrest.
(With IANS inputs)