Prominent activist and a young graffiti artist are among many Kashmiris arrested for expressing anger against Israel -- a key ally of India that supplies advanced weapons to New Delhi, some of which end up being used in the Indian administered Kashmir.
Indian police in Kashmir has arrested 21 people, including a young graffiti artist, for "disturbing public order by expressing solidarity with Palestinians and holding protests against Israel's military offensive in Gaza," according to media reports.
Police said in a statement on Saturday that they were keeping a "close watch on elements who are attempting to leverage the unfortunate situation in Palestine to disturb public peace and order" in Kashmir.
The statement said police were "sensitive to public anguish" but wouldn't allow those sentiments to "trigger violence, lawlessness, and disorder."
The polices said the arrested include Sarjan Barkati, a Muslim cleric and a prominent anti-India activist, as well as an artist.
The artist was arrested for painting pro-Palestinian graffiti on a bridge in Srinagar on Friday showing a woman wearing a scarf made of a Palestinian flag and a tear tricking from her eye, with the words: "WE ARE PALESTINE."
The graffiti was later painted over by police.
The Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir is often called South Asia's Palestine where many Kashmiris espouse the territory's merger with Pakistan or complete independence in a UN-backed plebiscite, according to TRT world.
Many have long shown strong solidarity with Palestinians and have often staged anti-Israel protests when the Israeli attacks began in besieged Gaza.
Since Monday, Israel has pounded Gaza with air strikes. The latest Israeli aggression on Palestine has already begun to resemble and even exceed a devastating 50-day war in 2014, the TRT said adding:
During that attack, large anti-Israel protests erupted in Kashmir, which often morphed into clashes with demands of an end of India's occupation over the region and causing dozens of casualties.
The J&K police department also said authorities were monitoring social media websites for content that intends to initiate violence on the streets of Kashmir, The Print said.
According to Anadolu Agency, Gowhar Geelani, a journalist who was booked under an anti-terror law last year for his social media commentary, wrote on Twitter: "Israel, ladies and gentlemen, is a terrorist state. Its founders ran a sleeper terrorist cell. And it is not the only such state. It has a partner in crime!"
Facebook user Miraj Din took a dig at Muslims across the world with this post: "Muslims suddenly behaving like as if there is an Ummah. Ah! Is there any such entity called Ummah? Isn't there a huge difference between timely sudden reactions and a sustained engaging concern? "
"Kashmiris, Uyghurs, Rohingyas, Palestinians and many others believe the other way around. Well! Best of luck with your profile pictures, updates, retweets and Facebook shares."
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