A day after an FIR was registered by Maharashtra police against ‘protestor’ Mehak Mirza Prabhu for pushing anti-India agenda by holding up a ‘Free Kashmir’ poster at the Gateway of India in Mumbai, Maharashtra Home Minister and NCP leader Anil Deshmukh has backtracked and said he would review the FIR against the accused.
According to a Times Of India report, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh speaking to the media said that prima facie holding “Free Kashmir” poster did not look like the accused had any “anti-national intentions”. He also said that his government would review the FIR and stated that he has asked the police for a report on the investigation.
“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.
Reportedly, the government 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.
Interestingly, the Shiv Sena seems to be toeing NCP’s line in seeking a review of FIR against Mehak Mirza Prabhu, who held anti-India posters during the protest in Mumbai against the alleged violence on JNU students.
On Thursday, the Shiv Sena, in its mouthpiece Saamana had backed the accused despite the secessionist placard during the Sunday protest in Mumbai against the mob violence at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University. Shiv Sena’s excuse to seeking a review against Mehak Mirza Prabhu comes from the fact that the accused is a ‘Mumbaikar Marathi woman’.
“A Mumbaikar Marathi woman expressed the pain of Kashmiris silently through this poster. The opposition feels this is sedition. There can’t be a dirtier example of irresponsibility,” the Saamana editorial said.
Earlier, the ‘secular’ Shiv Sena had also supported the accused saying it did not find anything wrong with these protests and downplayed the whole incident. Shiv Sena’s firebrand Shayari expert Sanjay Raut had stated that he has come to know that the ‘Free Kashmir’ posters did not mean actually ‘Free Kashmir’ but the accused only wanted freedom from restrictions of internet services, mobile services and other issues.
Shiv Sena leader and Thackeray-scion Aaditya Thackeray had also dismissed the ‘Free Kashmir’ placard at the protests and said that we need to “look at the larger picture”.
Reportedly, Deshmukh is under pressure from senior leaders of the party after the FIRs were registered. Senior NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal has demanded that the FIR against Mehak and other protestors like ultra-left wing protestor Umar Khalid should be taken back.
Bhujbal had 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”.
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.
On Wednesday, the Colaba police had recorded the statement of Mehek Mirza Prabhu. Reportedly, the accused had 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.
Earlier, representatives of the group ‘Mumbai Against CAA’ had also met the Home Minister and Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad to request them to withdraw FIRs.