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Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah clarifies stance on Pro-Palestine demonstrations following criticism

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah clarified on Friday, saying, “We support all expressions and activities done without harming the fundamental principles of the Constitution” in response to Police clampdown on Pro-Palestine demonstrations.

The statement comes in following criticism by netizens, activists and groups who wrote letters expressing concern over ‘stifling of pro-Palestine voices’.

After the recent episode of arising concerns over the Police denying permission for a pro-Palestine event in Bengaluru scheduled for November 29th, the CM of Karnataka, has attributed the refusal to “misinformation” among the lower-ranking Police personnel, accusing them of creating “unnecessary confusion”.

“I have issued appropriate directions to the director-general of police to make sure that such confusions are not caused,” he said.

Activists contended that the actions of the Karnataka government and police contradict its statements, resulting in a discordant approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict. They have raised questions about the Karnataka government’s position, pointing out that other states have allowed sizable rallies and demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine, whereas Karnataka has opted to suppress such displays of support.

The Police have detained people, and registered FIRs against protesters for expressing solidarity with Palestine, in different parts of Karnataka including a youngster for sharing a pro-Palestine status on WhatsApp in Hospet, and a 58-year-old man who appealed for prayers for Hamas in a video in Mangalore.

However, in the press release CM said that “the government would never intentionally obstruct any form of creative expressions, such as storytelling, poetry, theater and music”.

“I urge the people of the state not to be concerned about the freedom of expression and not to create any more confusion in this regard,” Siddaramaiah said.

Multiple petitions seeking permission to organize pro-Palestine activity/protest were reportedly rejected by the Police for various reasons like “security risks”, “potential threat to peace and order”, “limited space”, “international issue”, etc.

Following the clarification, in a notable development, the theatre community staged a demonstration at Freedom Park on Saturday, December 2 abiding by the Karnataka High Court order in 2022, that restricted all the protests in the city to Freedom Park, Bangalore.

Although India was the first non-Arab nation to acknowledge the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is in stark contrast to its current stand aligning more closely with Israel and the US, some demonstrators advocating for Palestine claim to have faced government targeting.

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