Saturday, February 24, 2024

Kerala Police arrests 6 students for sticking pro-Palestine posters on Starbucks store, charges include incitement for riot

Six students, including four girls, were summoned to Kozhikode Town Police Station and arrest were registered before being them on station bail. Photo: Shaheen Abdulla/Maktoob

Kerala Police on Sunday arrested six student activists for sticking pro-Palestine boycott posters on a Starbucks store near Kozhikode beach. The students of Farook College in Kozhikode district were released on station bail after producing two sureties.

The students affiliated with Fraternity Movement are booked under Indian Penal Code section 448 (Punishment for house-trespass), 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 427 (Mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) and 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention). 

Police have seized the car in which the students travelled as evidence.

The First Investigation Report filed at Kozhikode Town Police Station and accessed by Maktoob states the incident happened on 04 January evening.

The students are accused of allegedly sticking “Free Palestine” and “Caution Contents May Fund Genocide” posters on the glass door of the Starbucks store.

Waseem Mansoor, co-accused and leader of Fraternity Movement Farook College said the group intended to make a video on brands that are backing the genocidal war on Gaza and the actions caused no property damage or provocation.

The students told Maktoob that the posters were instantly removed by the staffers at the store and they didn’t stop them initially.

It’s the third incident at the store in Kozhikode Beach where dozens of pro-Palestinian gatherings attended by thousands of people have happened in the last three months.

“We don’t repent over actions. The case is unnecessary. We were there to make a video on brands that supported Israel in the genocide against Palestine,” Fathima Meharin, one of the accused, told Maktoob.

“There are global calls for a boycott of such [pro-Israel] brands. Everyone is protesting.”

Outrage against Starbucks

Starbucks is one of the most high-profile firms facing boycott pressure globally for making a pro-Israel stand at the beginning of the war on Gaza. The apprehension began after the coffee giant filed a lawsuit against its workers for a pro-Palestinain social media post.

In December Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan said that protestors were influenced by “misrepresentation on social media of what we stand for”. 

Starbucks is among dozens of global brands that are facing boycott calls from pro-Palestinian groups for their support for Israel and its genocidal war.

In December Global political tensions are spilling fast into Seattle-based Starbucks Corporation, as the company has lost approximately 11 billion dollars in value, erasing 9.4 per cent of the company’s total value.

“Boycott is not rioting”

Responding to the case, Fraternity Movement Kerala State Vice President Labeeb Kayakodi said the charges are ramped up by police for no reason.

“Call for boycott are not call for rioting. They clearly know these were students but they still went on to invoke rioting charges,” Labeeb told Maktoob. He warned of a state-wide boycott if the case is not withdrawn.

“We demand the Kerala government to give clarity over why cases registered for pro-Palestinian protests and activism,” he added.

Fraternity Movement’s Kozhikode wing has announced a protest march demanding to quash the case against the students.

The complainant, Starbucks store manager Dileep N declined to comment on the case.

Shaheen Abdulla
Shaheen Abdulla
Shaheen Abdulla is the Associate Creative Editor of Maktoob. Shaheen studies convergent journalism in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
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