The pro-Palestine graffiti drawn at Srinagar’s Padshahi Bagh was legal under India’s constitution. It was within the ambit of the Constitution’s Article 19 (1A) for Mudasir Gul to draw street graffiti. It is an artist’s fundamental right and his detention is a dangerous precedent.
The Article-19 and it’s sub-clauses elaborate the fundamental freedoms of an individual – the freedom of speech and expression; the freedom to assemble peaceably; freedom to form associations or unions; and other freedoms. Even though the suspension of fundamental freedoms in Kashmir has become routine, especially during the last three years, it doesn’t make these suspensions legal. All societies need artists, poets, writers and historians to keep the process of remembrance and to catalog the processes of joy and mourning, happiness and grief. The suspension of fundamental human rights is not only illegal but also a short-lived measure that does more harm to policymakers than it does good.
The administration should live by the ideals of the Constitution which they have vowed to protect. The officers of the State are subservient to the Constitution; they cannot make decisions based on their whims. They should also not subvert the laws. The suspension of the fundamental rights is not a way forward.