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SIO Kochi's pressure ensures Australian tourists booked for vandalizing pro-Palestine posters

SIO Kochis pressure ensures Australian tourists booked for vandalizing pro-Palestine posters

The enraged Australian tourist of Jewish origin, upon seeing posters in support of Palestine against the Israeli war on Gaza in Kerala’s Kochi, tore them down, leading to a heated exchange with locals and later being booked on a complaint by the SIO Kochi area.

The incident, which occurred near the Fort Kochi boat jetty on Monday night, involved the tearing down of pro-Palestine posters erected by the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO), the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami.

Caught on camera, the footage depicts the woman engaged in a confrontation with several men who confronted her for dismantling the poster. Despite their insistence that she collect the torn pieces of the mural, she persisted in arguing her stance. The altercation escalated as the locals urged her to involve the police if she had grievances with the mural.

The Fort Kochi police station has registered a case under IPC section 153 against the accused, although their names were not disclosed in the FIR. This section pertains to "wantonly giving provocation with the intent to cause riot, whether or not riot is committed." However, the offence is bailable, and the women were subsequently released from police custody.

According to police reports, the tourists tore down one of the pro-Palestine posters, prompting questioning from local youths and escalating into a heated debate between the two parties.

On Tuesday, K S Azeem, an area leader of SIO, lodged a complaint with the local police seeking action against the women. Additionally, SIO activists managed to track down one of the tourists to a homestay near Fort Kochi.

Initially reluctant to take action, the police faced mounting pressure from SIO activists who thronged the police station in large numbers on Tuesday night, demanding that a case be registered.

The activists also staged a protest in front of the police station, insisting that they would disperse only after their demands were met. Ultimately, the police relented and registered a case around midnight on Tuesday.

Police clarified that the pro-Palestine posters were erected without permission during the New Year period. While acknowledging that the posters should have been removed by the local civic body, they maintained that it was not within their jurisdiction to do so.

This incident comes against the backdrop of heightened tensions surrounding the Israel-Palestine conflict. Earlier this year, Kerala Police detained six students from Farook College in Kozhikode district for affixing pro-Palestine posters onto a Starbucks store near Kozhikode beach.

The posters, bearing messages such as 'Free Palestine' and 'Caution Contents May Fund Genocide,' were placed on the glass door of the establishment. The students, associated with the Fraternity Movement, took this action as part of a broader protest against corporations perceived to support Israel amid the conflict in Gaza.

Starbucks, among other franchises, has faced scrutiny for its alleged pro-Israel stance, contributing to the ongoing discourse surrounding the conflict.

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