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31 May 2012

Al-Nakba Day falls on Mumbai

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By Tariq A. Al-Maeena


May 15, 1948 is the day acknowledged by many as the beginning of the illegal displacement of the Palestinians from their land by the invading European Jewish refugees.  It is their “day of infamy.”  It has become widely known as Al-Nakba Day or the “Day of the Catastrophe” which falls on the day after the creation of the state of Israel.  The date has grown in significance and is now annually commemorated the world over by those who support justice for the exploited and oppressed.


So it was no surprise that freedom lovers in Mumbai, India were planning a day of support on Al-Nakba Day.  What was surprising instead was that police raided the premises of some of the organizers and confiscated the banners highlighting the plight of the Palestinians.  In a story carried by countercurrents.org, the actions of the Mumbai police were called into question, for they did not simply stop at taking away the banners.


Instead they took the members of the staff who were preparing for the protest to the police station for further questioning.  It was only after pressure from high sources that the truth finally filtered out.  According to some of the police, who chose to remain anonymous, the raid was carried out at the behest and instructions of the Israeli consulate in Mumbai.  Fearing bad publicity, the Israelis must have found sympathetic ears in the Maharashtra government.
Mumbai, in the state of Maharashtra, is also the home base of the extreme right-wing organization Shiv Sena, which is known for promoting ethnic violence against minorities including Muslims.  It is no secret that their fundamental belief is that India is only for Hindus and no one else.  One would be blind not to notice a parallel between the ideologies of Shiv Sena and the Israelis.


According to countercurrents.org, there has been a backlash against the underhanded and unjustified actions of the Mumbai police in raiding the premises of the organizers of Al-Nakba Day.  There are charges that the local police are now acting as agents of a foreign consulate against Indian citizens on Indian soil, indeed a matter of great concern.


There was clearly an infringement of sovereign and democratic rights and those protesting stated, “We thus lodge our protest and condemn the action of the police as strongly as possible. The banners were not put up in any public space without the due permission of the municipal authorities, as is the norm. The banners were strung outside the balcony on the first floor of the said private premises.   Moreover the banners had the following messages in the context of the May 15th protests that are held globally:


i) Boycott Israel - Save India!
ii) Free Palestine & Right of Return of the Refugees
iii) May 15th - Nakba Protests!”


The group goes on to demand that action be taken against “the Israeli consulate, wherein they are clearly told to operate within the limits of a foreign entity as a consulate and not step beyond the boundaries and the laws of our country. They need to be told that they are not the new viceroys of India, where they can directly call up the local police station and have them raid and arrest patriotic citizens.”


Tariq A. Al-Maeena
In strongly condemning the actions of the police and the role played by the Israeli consulate, they demand, “All the police stations in our city of Mumbai, across Maharashtra and India, need to be warned that they should not be acting against Indian citizens at a telephone call from either the Israelis, the Americans or any other foreign power.  We will not betray the sacrifices and the memories of our founding fathers and the thousands who laid down their lives for a free India.”


They also warned that, “the next time our sovereign democratic rights as Indian citizens are again infringed upon, the people of this city will lay siege to the police station.” Spoken like true nationalists in a country whose democracy and secularism is coming under extreme pressure.  India is on the threshold.


[The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com]


(Courtesy: Saudi Gazette)

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