Mumbai: After the pictures and videos of a ‘Free Kashmir’ placard at the Gateway of India sparked outrage, the woman holding the poster has now come forward to defend herself by issuing a clarification video.
The woman in question is 37-year-old Mehak Mirza Prabhu, who is a storyteller, writer and performer from Mumbai. Facing backlash and criticism over her act, Mehak said she is being misrepresented and was only speaking for the rights of Kashmiris when she held that placard.
In a video message posted on YouTube and Facebook, Mehak explained that she was not trying to call for Kashmir’s freedom from India, but voicing her solidarity for their basic constitutional rights vis-a-vis the internet lockdown.
In a Facebook post that she called ‘This is the truth behind the Lady holding the placard “Free Kashmir” at Gateway protest, Mehak wrote, ”The picture created by entire social media came as an absolute shock to me. Placard meant freedom to express themselves, freedom from the internet lock-down which many people have been voicing for. I was voicing my solidarity for basic constitutional right. No other agenda or motive what so ever. If by being naive in understanding the impact it would have, and in the process create this stir. I apologise. I am artist who believes in basic human compassion.”
Stating that the issue has been misrepresented and blown out of proportion, she says in the 3-minute video, “Contrary to the false facts being spread, I am not a Kashmiri. I am from Mumbai; I am a Maharashtrian. When I saw that placard, what came to my mind was about the basic constitutional rights of Kashmiris. Because of Internet shutdown over the last five months, the same right has been snatched from the people of Kashmir. Like us, they should have the same right to freedom of expression. They should get the basic rights that we have. That’s the only reason why I held that poster, along with a flower.”
Towards the end, she urges people to spread her side of the story and counter hate with love. Watch the video here:
Several political leaders have condemned the poster, the pictures of which went viral, triggering a political controversy.
”If anyone talks of freedom of Kashmir from India then it will not be tolerated”, said Shiv Sena leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut, while BJP leader Kirit Somaiya filed a complaint with police over the issue.
Meanwhile, BJP Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis demanded to know what the protest was exactly about and why slogans of ‘Free Kashmir’ were raised there.