Govt invokes anti-defacement law to thwart 'graffiti protest'

Govt invokes anti-defacement law to thwart 'graffiti protest'

SMC, Municipal Committees asked to act against ‘violators’

With Kashmir’s resistance camp urging people to start the month of August by writing pro-freedom slogans on walls and roads, government authorities in Kashmir have invoked the ‘anti-defacement law’ to thwart the protest plan.

A senior official said the government has conveyed to the concerned law enforcement agencies to stop pro-freedom and pro-Burhan graffiti on walls and in alleys in Kashmir.

“Police is already taking action against the persons found defacing the walls, but now the direction has been conveyed to the Srinagar Municipal Corporation and Municipal Committees to invoke Prevention of Defacement of Public Property Act 1985,” he said.

The SMC has already issued notices through media, warning of strict action against violators for defacing the walls and public property.

The J&K Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1985, states that whoever defaces any property in public view by writing or marking with ink, chalk, paint or any other material, except for the purpose of name and address of the owners or occupier of such property, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months of with fine which may extend one thousand rupees or with both.

Interesting, in the aftermath of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing and subsequent curfew across Kashmir, the ‘graffiti protest’ is emerging as another mode of resistance in Srinagar areas and elsewhere.

The slogans like BURHAN STILL IN OUR HEARTS, FREEDOM STATE OF WAR, THE LEGEND OF BURHAN, WE WANT FREEDOM, GO INDIA GO BACK have been painted almost everywhere—be it downtown or uptown localities of Srinagar.

When contacted, Commissioner of Srinagar Municipal Corporation Bashir Ahmad Khan said there have been reports of defacement of public property at various places. “In this regard, our Chief Revenue Officer has issued notices asking people to desist from such acts as we have the anti-defacement laws in place under which action would be taken against the violators.”

When asked whether the action has been initiated after the resistance camp asked people to express freedom sentiments through graffiti, he said: “We have not seen any such slogans, but it also comes under the defacement Act. Police is there to take action against violators for defacing walls. And we will also charge whosoever is found guilty of writing anything without our permission.”