“Mahabharat” posters pop up in Islamabad, police remove banner, arrest several people

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ISLAMABAD: Pro-India banners have emerged in Islamabad in the wake of the latest unrest between India and Pakistan due to abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A by Narendra Modi-led government in India.

As social media remain abuzz with debates over the move to strip Kashmir off autonomy, anti-Pakistan posters popped-up in different parts of Islamabad under mysterious circumstances. As per police, posters were put up in different parts of the federal capital in the early hours of the day.

Police, taking prompt action, took the posters down and took to the Kohsar police station. An initial investigation into the incident has also been launched. The content in posters praised India and how by this recent development was  “another step been taken towards the dream of ‘Maha-Bharat’”. The poster also said that after occupied Kashmir, India will take “Balochistan and Azad Kashmir” from Pakistan.

Police are trying to obtain footage from nearby CCTVs and safe city cameras to identify the person or gang involved in this incident. Superintendent Police (SP) Amir Niazi also reached Kohsar police station and was briefed about this incident and the progress that has been made so far.

According to a Dawn report, Islamabad police on Tuesday made arrests and removed from various areas of the capital dozens of banners inscribed with an anti-Pakistan statement from an Indian lawmaker.

The banners had stirred controversy and concern as pictures and videos of the inflammatory message inscribed on them were shared online.

The banners had featured a screenshot of a video recording of proceedings in India’s Rajya Sabha [Council of States]. The text under the snapshot was an anti-Pakistan statement made by Indian lawmaker Sanjay Raut, who was also featured in the image.

It is unclear what message the banners were intended to portray, as, along with the inflammatory statement, they also featured a logo inscribed with the words ‘Akhand Bharat Real Terror’ (which roughly translates to: “[The ideology of] Undivided India is the real terrorism”).

‘Akhand Bharat’ usually refers to the idea that all lands comprising Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Tibet, Bhutan and Bangladesh should be unified under one system of governance. The idea is today mainly favoured by Hindu nationalists and pushed by far-right outfits like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

A few hours after videos of the posters started doing the rounds, Islamabad police arrested a suspect from Blue Area who is believed to have been responsible for having placed the banners.

Police said the suspect, who is involved in the printing business, had received an order for the banners from another suspect, a resident of Gujranwala.

Police have sealed a printing press in Islamabad where the banners were believed to have been printed.

Intelligence agencies later took the suspect from police custody and shifted him to an undisclosed location for further interrogation.

The Kohsar Police Station had also received an application by a representative of the traders community, Sajid Iqbal Gujjar, seeking legal action against the suspect responsible for placing the banners. Later in the day, Islamabad District Magistrate Hamza Shafqaat sought an explanation from the municipal administration over the incident and questioned the delay of over five hours in removing the banners.