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Kashmir Newz Board

Rage boy not to sue companies using his image

Srinagar, December 09, 2007:

Smile Boy
Smile Boy

Shakeel Ahmad Bhat, the poster-boy of Kashmiri fury and resistance, who became an Internet phenomenon, has rejected the options to sue the companies who have copyrighted his image and are selling various products imprinted with it.

Bhat 31, an ordinary separatist political activist from Srinagar, summer capital of Indian administered Kashmir, this year grabbed international attention when images of his angry postures at street protests were circulated by press photo agencies and subsequently named as Islamic Rage boy by bloggers. He has been subject of intense gossiping, satire and parody ever since. His nickname scores more than a million results in Google.

To cash on this phenomenon some companies also copyrighted his image and expressions and started selling products like beer mugs, mousepads, T shirts, valentine cards etc having emblazoned on them his photos in a variety of bloodthirsty and furious poses.

Bhat says that he has no plans to sue the people who earn by selling his image. "I am a humble political worker seeking international attention towards Kashmir problem, I cannot accept money against my earnest service to my nation," said Bhat to Kashmir Newz in Srinagar.

Bhat's constant presence in the street protests of Kashmir has made him the darling of some rightwing American bloggers, who resort to parodies and spoof-image making of him. Entire phenomenon around him has also been widely covered by various newspapers and magazines across world.

Bhat is usually seen protesting on Srinagar roads against the human rights violations in Kashmir and elsewhere in Muslim world and, against scathing attacks aimed at Islam. He says that he considers raising voice against the 'oppressor' his duty and if he accepts money in return, his services will go in vain.

"I hope that Allah will reward me for my service at the time of judgment and I don't get lured to money, if it is offered to me in whatever form," said Bhat.

Bhat says he is not bothered how people perceive him. "Whatever I do, I do it in the name of Allah, the almighty. I am more considered with the world hereafter," says Bhat.

Bhat's prominent postures have been captured during protests over the sexual exploitation of Kashmiri girls by mainstream politicians and Indian Army personnel, unearthing of fake encounters, the row over Danish cartoons and granting of knighthood to writer Salman Rushdie.

Although Bhat says many people mostly lawyers approached him with the suggestion to sue the companies, but he had never lend his ears to the issue.

"Some friends told me that we can sue the people who sell your image but I showed reluctance," said Bhat, who is very much dependent on his brothers for pocket money.

Since most of the blog posts about Bhat are in same unchanging, demeaning, hostile tone, Bhat says that he is yet to take decision about suing the persons who constantly resort to damaging his image.

"I am personally hurt with the people who had distorted my image by some times presenting me as a pig and sometimes a naked blonde. I am thinking in terms of dealing with them as per law," Bhat told Kashmir Newz.

Legal experts believe that the American websites that have reproduced Shakeel's image may be breaching his image rights under US intellectual property law and for that Bhat has a strong case against them.

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