Kashmiri artist says FB deleted cartoon on Afzal Guru

A Kashmiri artist on Tuesday accused Facebook of pulling down a cartoon marking the third anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s execution.

The cartoon depicts roots growing out of Afzal Guru’s grave in Tihar jail and connecting to roots of a large tree named Kashmir. Guru, who hailed from Baramulla in the state, was hanged at the jail in 2013 for his role in the 2001 Parliament attack.

The artist, Mir Suhail Qadiri, said the cartoon was “deleted from Facebook on Tuesday morning”. The cartoon was first published in the English daily of the valley, Rising Kashmir.

Contacted by HT over the allegation, a Facebook spokesperson said they were investigating the matter.

Qadiri, who posts his cartoons regularly on a FB page titled ‘Mir Suhail’, said he realised at around 11 am that the Guru cartoon he had posted an hour earlier was removed.

The artist said he found a message from Facebook, “We removed something you posted” with the image of his post containing the Guru cartoon.

He claimed that FB has also blocked him from posting new cartoons on his page.

“The incident shows how fragile freedom of expression is in India. I know that in a community many people don’t like my cartoons, but things getting deleted is just not acceptable,” Qadiri told HT.

The artist’s allegation came in the midst of a shutdown in Kashmir valley called by separatist groups.

Guru’s execution has been an emotional issue in the Muslim-dominated valley with a section hailing him as a hero. Guru’s family and separatists have also been demanding the mortal remains of Guru.

“The cartoon basically showcases how emotionally Kashmiris are connected with the hanging of Afzal Guru. The roots of the trees represent veins. And it’s not my opinion. See how Kashmir was today…a complete shutdown on the occasion of anniversary of Guru’s hanging,” Qadiri added.

FB had faced accusations of curbing artistic freedom earlier too. In November, an artwork titled ‘Punjaban’ by graphic artist and designer Orijit Sen was removed purportedly containing “nudity”.

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