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Masarat Alam re-arrested a day after Jammu and Kashmir HC quashes his detention

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Jammu and Kashmir HC asks state govt to release separatist leader Masarat Alam, again

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J&K police arrest separatist leader Masarat Alam in defiance of court orders: Report

The Jammu and Kashmir police re-arrested separatist leader Masarat Alam on Tuesday, despite a court order against his arrest, says a report in Indian Express.

Masarat Alam (centre)

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The Jammu and Kashmir police re-arrested separatist leader Masarat Alam on Tuesday, despite a court order against his arrest, says a report in Indian Express.The arrest took place allegedly ‘on the gates’ of Kotbalwal jail on Tuesday. The J-K High court last month had quashed Alam’s detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) and ordered the government to release him.”He was released after we provided a copy of the High Court order to the jail authorities today,” said Muslim League spokesperson Mohammed Rafiq Ganai. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”But even as he was yet to come out of the jail, a few policemen, who were already presented inside the jail, arrested him again.” he claimed to Indian Express.“We have no information about him and Police also is not telling us anything. We are worried for his safety,” he said. “Police have waged a war against the Muslim League leaders and activists. They (leaders) are being arrested and harassed by the men in uniform,” he added, claiming Alam was taken to an undisclosed location.Mufti Mohammad Sayeed led PDP-BJP government had suffered a major setback last month when the Jammu and Kashmir high court quashed the detention of Hurriyat hardliner Masarat Alam under the Public Safety Act (PSA).Alam was arrested on April 17 two days after he shouted pro-Pakistan slogans and called for Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan during a pro-Pakistan rally organised to welcome Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani in which his supporters also unfurled Pakistani flags.Alam’s arrest had come just a month after he was released by Mufti government after spending almost four and half years in jail for leading ‘Quit Kashmir Movement’ in which 120 youth were killed mostly in the security force firing on the stone pelting mobs in 2010. The 43 year old Hurriyat hardliner was booked under PSA on April 23 and sent to Kot Bhawal jail Jammu. Under the PSA, Alam had to remain in jail without trail and bail for six months which was extendable.Four months on, a single judge bench of Justice Hasnain Masoodi of Jammu and Kashmir high court quashed Alam’s detention under the PSA.

People will continue waving Pakistan flags in Kashmir, says Syed Ali Shah Geelani

Hardline Hurriyat Conference on Sunday said people will continue to wave Pakistan flags at its rallies in Kashmir, as it termed the neighbouring a “well wisher”.

Hardline Hurriyat Conference on Sunday said people will continue to wave Pakistan flags at its rallies in Kashmir, as it termed the neighbouring a “well wisher”.”Pakistani flags have been waved (in Kashmir) and, In Sha Allah (God willing), will be waved in future as well as Pakistan is our neighbour and a well wisher,” hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani said at a function at his residence in Srinagar. Pakistani flags have appeared at several separatist rallies in Kashmir since April 15 this year, leading to severe criticism of the state government by opposition parties.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The first instance took place on April 15 during a rally organised by Hurriyat to welcome Geelani from Delhi. The state government reacted by arresting Masarat Alam and booking him under the Public Safety Act. Geelani said Kashmiris did not wish ill for India but “they have made the country their God”.

Separatist leader Masarat Alam charged under Public Safety Act

Kashmiri separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat, who was arrested last week on sedition charges, has been charged under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) by the Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday, according to a Zee News Report.

He has also been booked under Sections 121-A (waging war against the country), 124 (Sedition), 120-B (Criminal Conspiracy), 147 (rioting) of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) and other minor offences, the report said.

AFPAFP

Masarat Alam in a file photo. AFP

The imposition of the Public Safety Act allows the state to keep Alam in jail for two years without trial.

A Deccan Chronicle report mentions that the government took the decision a day after the Budgam court reserved his bail plea verdict till 25 April.

Alam was arrested after a rally on 15 April in Srinagar, where he shared the stage with Syed Geelani. Youths surrounding him had displayed Pakistani flags and shouted Pro-Pakistan slogans.  Alam had also reportedly shouted slogans like, “Kashmir Banega….” to which the youth responded with cries of “Pakistan”. He also shouted slogans like “Jeevay, Jeevay Pakistan (Long live Pakistan)” at the rally which sparked a furore, following which the Jammu and Kashmir police filed a case against him.

Alam was then placed in police detention in Budgam district where a police complaint was lodged against him.

Alam has defended his actions saying it wouldn’t deter them from their goal.

“It was a normal rally. This is not the first time that boys were raising pro-Pakistan slogans or had a Pakistani flag in their hands. It has been happening here since decades. I did not raise the flag. If they want to arrest me for that, let them do it,” Alam told Firstpost on Friday, moments before he was arrested by police from his Srinagar residence.

“The state has been using force against us for decades but it will not deter us from fighting for our goal. For us there is no difference in who is in the government. They are all same,” he added.

Magisterial probe into the killing of youth in Budgam, Kashmir begins

Srinagar: A magisterial probe began on Tuesday into the killing of a youth last week in police firing in Budgam district that led to widespread protests in parts of Kashmir.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“The Additional District Magistrate Budgam, who has been appointed enquiry officer to ascertain the causes and circumstances leading to the death of Suhail Ahmad Sofi on Saturday, will record statements of witnesses from today,” an official spokesman said.

He said the enquiry officer will record the statements of witnesses in connection with the incident till 27 April during office hours on all working days.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had ordered a magisterial probe into the 18 April incident when a youth Suhail Ahmad Sofi was killed in police firing at Narbal in Budgam district.

The family of the deceased has alleged that Sofi and two others were shot by police personnel after being detained. While Sofi succumbed to the injuries, the other two youths sustained injuries in the incident.

Police has arrested two cops including an Assistant Sub Inspector in connection with the case and attached the SHO concerned for lack of supervision.

PTI

After arrest of Masarat Alam, Jammu and Kashmir govt puts separatist Mirwaiz under house arrest

Srinagar: Authorities today placed several separatists, including moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, under house arrest even as a strike called by hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani over killing of two youths in an army operation earlier this week evoked a partial response in some parts of Kashmir.

Reuters imageReuters image

Reuters image

Mirwaiz was placed under house arrest this morning in view of fresh protests in some parts of the Valley over killing of the two youths in Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district in an army operation on Monday, police officials said.

They said the house arrest of the separatist leaders was a preventive measure for maintaining law and order. Geelani and several other second rung separatist leaders continue to be under house arrest for the second consecutive day today, the officials said.

These leaders were placed under house arrest yesterday to scuttle Geelani’s proposed march to Tral town for registering protest against the killing of the two youths, claimed to be innocent civilians by local residents. However, the army has maintained that they were militants.

In view of the strike call, shops, business establishments, educational institutes and petrol pumps were shut in and around Lal Chowk city centre but most of them were open in the civil lines areas of the city as well as in other major towns of the Valley, the officials said.

They said while public transport was sparse, private vehicles, cabs and auto-rickshaws plied normally. Geelani had called for a strike against the killing of the two youths. He had also asked the people to protest against “unjustified and inhuman” arrests of Hurriyat Leaders including Masarat Alam.

PTI

As Srinagar rages over Masarat Alam’s arrest, Sayeed’s plan for separatists seems doomed

Srinagar: After the controversy over the ‘pro-Pakistan’ rally held in Srinagar on Wednesday, the Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday arrested Masarat Alam Bhat, co-founder of the Muslim League, on charges of indulging in subversive activities.

Alam has defended his actions saying it wouldn’t deter them from their goal.

“It was a normal rally. This is not the first time that boys were raising pro-Pakistan slogans or had a Pakistani flag in their hands. It has been happening here since decades. I did not raise the flag. If they want to arrest me for that, let them do it,” Alam told Firstpost on Friday, moments before he was arrested by police from his Srinagar residence.

“The state has been using force against us for decades but it will not deter us from fighting for our goal. For us there is no difference in who is in the government. They are all same,” he added.

Alam's arrest has sparked anger in Kashmir. AFP imageAlam's arrest has sparked anger in Kashmir. AFP image

Alam’s arrest has sparked anger in Kashmir. AFP image

The arrest made on Friday morning is seen as a major setback to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s initiative of “battle of ideas” which aimed to make separatism and separatists irrelevant in Kashmir by following the path of dialogue and reconciliation with them.

Alam, the architect of civilian unrest in the Valley in 2010 which left more than hundred people dead, was booked along with Syed Geelani and Peer Saifullah under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for “provocative activities and hoisting of Pakistani flags.” On Wednesday, Alam organised a rally in Hyderpora in which more than 3000 people, mostly Kashmiri youth including school children, participated and raised slogans in favour of Alam.

Alam had then reportedly shouted slogans like, “Kashmir Banega….” to which the youth responded with cries of “Pakistan”. He also shouted slogans like “Jeevay, Jeevay Pakistan (Long live Pakistan)” at the rally which sparked a furore, following which the Jammu and Kashmir police filed a case against him.

Under pressure from the Centre, the state government gave a go-ahead for the arrest of Alam ahead of his scheduled visit to the Tral area of south Kashmir. Geelani along with other Hurriyat leaders who were to join him have been put under house arrest. The visit was to protest the killing of 25-year-old Khalid Muzaffar Wani, brother of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, which locals have alleged was a “custodial killing.”

This comes after the chief minister had earlier directed the Kashmir police on 4 March to initiate a process to release all political prisoners against whom no criminal charges are registered.

Although Alam’s release was not ordered by the PDP-BJP government in the state, the PDP had attempted to extract political mileage out of it. But after the arrest of Alam, the issue seems to have backfired on them. On Thursday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had phoned Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who assured him of action against those involved in ‘anti-national activities’ during the rally.

Social media was full of people ridiculing the Sayeed-led government for not standing up to promises made to the electorate.

“What happened to Mufti’s battle of ideas? Where is Mufti’s democracy? It is democracy, Indian ISHTAYLE,” Kamran Sayeed wrote on his Facebook page.

As Alam was being taken into custody, many gathered outside his home.

“What happened to Mufti who used to say democracy is a battle of ideas and it should not be held hostage to the agreements or disagreements on issues,” Irfan Malik, a sociology scholar in Kashmir University said outside Alam’s residence in Srinagar.

There is anger on the streets of Srinagar following the arrest of Alam against Sayeed for allowing the Centre to ‘dictate’ terms to the state government with people accusing the PDP patriarch of being a “puppet” Chief Minister installed by the New Delhi in Kashmir.

However, Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, President of youth wing of the PDP told Firstpost that they hadn’t arrested Alam under pressure from the Centre.

“It is all about procedure, not about pressure. Jammu and Kashmir police works under a system. They thought it as proper to arrest him and they did that. The law took will its own course. But jails can’t be solution to any problem. There was a cognizable offense against him and law took its own course,” Parra told Firstpost.

No one’s buying the ruling party’s explanation though.

“The message that comes out of this case is clear; that in Kashmir, it doesn’t matter whether PDP, which came on the promise of change, is in power, or National Conference led by Omar Abdullah. By arresting Alam, the PDP led government has exposed its own vulnerabilities and that the real power lies in the hands of New Delhi. The chief minister may say that this is the law taking its due course but then there are many cases registered against Army and policemen for rights abuses, why doesn’t ‘law take its own course’ in those cases as well?” Srinagar based journalist Jehangir Ali told Firstpost.

“Peoples Democratic Party has bowed before BJP and they want to choke the voices of dissent. Even if India says there is democracy in Kashmir, is this democracy? It is a dictatorship where media and so called civil society is allowed to issue diktats,” Tariq Hameed, a shopkeeper said in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk.

Separatist leader Masarat Alam arrested, clashes breakout in Srinagar between police, protesters

Srinagar: Separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat was arrested on Friday amid mounting outrage over raising of pro-Pakistan slogans and flags at a rally attended by him on Wednesday as the Centre said it was keeping a “close watch” on the situation in the Kashmir Valley which witnessed renewed violence.

The 45-year-old hardliner was arrested from his home in Habbakadal area of the city early this morning.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Masarat, who was himself seen chanting slogans in support of Pakistan, besides Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, had been placed under house arrest in Srinagar last night.

“Bhat has been arrested in the case registered in police station Budgam in connection with the provocative actions during the rally on Wednesday,” a senior police officer said.

An FIR was registered against Geelani, Masarat and other separatists leaders for “provocative activities” under various sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other penal laws.

The arrest came hours ahead of Hurriyat’s planned march to Tral area of Pulwama district where two youths had been killed in an army operation. Locals have alleged the two were killed in a staged encounter, while the army insisted they were militants shot down in a gunbattle.

Meanwhile, pitched battles were fought on the streets of Srinagar this afternoon when supporters of the Hurriyat Conference clashed with police resulting in injury to about a dozen people, including two policemen.

Clashes broke out between protesters and security forces soon after the Friday prayers concluded at the historic Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area of the city. Reports of stone-pelting were also received from Tral and adjoining areas.

Young men with clothes wrapped on their faces were seen hurling stones at the police who fired teargas shells to break up the march.

As Srinagar was on the boil, the Centre said it was keeping a close watch on the situation and asserted there will be “zero tolerance” to militancy and separatism.

“The Central government is keeping a close watch on situation in J&K. Union Home Ministry is keeping itself abreast of all the sequence of the events from time to time. They are also giving most valuable guidance to the state of J&K,” Union Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh said.

“As far as BJP is concerned both at Centre and states, our stand has been very consistent as far as nationalism, patriotism is concerned. We follow a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism, towards separatism…The coalition, which has come in Jammu and Kashmir is purely for the sake of governance,” he said.

Apparently referring to the differences between the ruling allies in J&K-BJP and PDP- over tackling militancy, the minister said the two parties had come together “purely” to give a government in the troubled state after the Assembly polls threw up a fractured mandate.

Referring to Pakistan’s support to the separatists, Singh said,”Pakistan is always looking forward to fish in troubled waters but as far as we are concerned and the BJP is concerned, we are very clear about it. We have zero tolerance towards separatism and terrorism”, he said.

Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, under attack from several quarters, including the BJP, had yesterday denied permission for Hurriyat’s march to Tral.

Hours after the Wednesday rally, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had called up the Chief Minister and asked him to take “immediate and stringent” action against the law breakers. He told Sayeed there cannot be any compromise on the issue of national security.

Leader of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who led today’s protests which saw the national flag being burnt, said “state terrorism” was the bigger issue in J&K.

“The bigger issue here is state terrorism, the bigger issue here is disappearance of more than 10,000 people who are missing in the last 10 years. You have more than eight thousand graves in Kashmir and nobody is talking about it in the Parliament and in Delhi, in other parts of India, (it’s) very unfortunate,” Farooq said.

He said the Hurriyat will register a “very strong” protest to demand an inquiry into the Tral incident and arrest of the culprits.

“We will continue our protest on these issues, we belive that the time has come when the (Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has to go,” he said.

PTI

As anger rises over Masarat Alam’s arrest, Sayeed’s plan for separatists seems doomed

Srinagar: After the controversy over the ‘pro-Pakistan’ rally held in Srinagar on Wednesday, the Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday arrested Masarat Alam Bhat, co-founder of the Muslim League, on charges of indulging in subversive activities.

Alam has defended his actions saying it wouldn’t deter them from their goal.

“It was a normal rally. This is not the first time that boys were raising pro-Pakistan slogans or had a Pakistani flag in their hands. It has been happening here since decades. I did not raise the flag. If they want to arrest me for that, let them do it,” Alam told Firstpost on Friday, moments before he was arrested by police from his Srinagar residence.

“The state has been using force against us for decades but it will not deter us from fighting for our goal. For us there is no difference in who is in the government. They are all same,” he added.

Alam's arrest has sparked anger in Kashmir. AFP imageAlam's arrest has sparked anger in Kashmir. AFP image

Alam’s arrest has sparked anger in Kashmir. AFP image

The arrest made on Friday morning is seen as a major setback to Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s initiative of “battle of ideas” which aimed to make separatism and separatists irrelevant in Kashmir by following the path of dialogue and reconciliation with them.

Alam, the architect of civilian unrest in the Valley in 2010 which left more than hundred people dead, was booked along with Syed Geelani and Peer Saifullah under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for “provocative activities and hoisting of Pakistani flags.” On Wednesday, Alam organised a rally in Hyderpora in which more than 3000 people, mostly Kashmiri youth including school children, participated and raised slogans in favour of Alam.

Alam had then reportedly shouted slogans like, “Kashmir Banega….” to which the youth responded with cries of “Pakistan”. He also shouted slogans like “Jeevay, Jeevay Pakistan (Long live Pakistan)” at the rally which sparked a furore, following which the Jammu and Kashmir police filed a case against him.

Under pressure from the Centre, the state government gave a go-ahead for the arrest of Alam ahead of his scheduled visit to the Tral area of south Kashmir. Geelani along with other Hurriyat leaders who were to join him have been put under house arrest. The visit was to protest the killing of 25-year-old Khalid Muzaffar Wani, brother of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, which locals have alleged was a “custodial killing.”

This comes after the chief minister had earlier directed the Kashmir police on 4 March to initiate a process to release all political prisoners against whom no criminal charges are registered.

Although Alam’s release was not ordered by the PDP-BJP government in the state, the PDP had attempted to extract political mileage out of it. But after the arrest of Alam, the issue seems to have backfired on them. On Thursday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had phoned Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who assured him of action against those involved in ‘anti-national activities’ during the rally.

Social media was full of people ridiculing the Sayeed-led government for not standing up to promises made to the electorate.

“What happened to Mufti’s battle of ideas? Where is Mufti’s democracy? It is democracy, Indian ISHTAYLE,” Kamran Sayeed wrote on his Facebook page.

As Alam was being taken into custody, many gathered outside his home.

“What happened to Mufti who used to say democracy is a battle of ideas and it should not be held hostage to the agreements or disagreements on issues,” Irfan Malik, a sociology scholar in Kashmir University said outside Alam’s residence in Srinagar.

There is anger on the streets of Srinagar following the arrest of Alam against Sayeed for allowing the Centre to ‘dictate’ terms to the state government with people accusing the PDP patriarch of being a “puppet” Chief Minister installed by the New Delhi in Kashmir.

However, Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, President of youth wing of the PDP told Firstpost that they hadn’t arrested Alam under pressure from the Centre.

“It is all about procedure, not about pressure. Jammu and Kashmir police works under a system. They thought it as proper to arrest him and they did that. The law took will its own course. But jails can’t be solution to any problem. There was a cognizable offense against him and law took its own course,” Parra told Firstpost.

No one’s buying the ruling party’s explanation though.

“The message that comes out of this case is clear; that in Kashmir, it doesn’t matter whether PDP, which came on the promise of change, is in power, or National Conference led by Omar Abdullah. By arresting Alam, the PDP led government has exposed its own vulnerabilities and that the real power lies in the hands of New Delhi. The chief minister may say that this is the law taking its due course but then there are many cases registered against Army and policemen for rights abuses, why doesn’t ‘law take its own course’ in those cases as well?” Srinagar based journalist Jehangir Ali told Firstpost.

“Peoples Democratic Party has bowed before BJP and they want to choke the voices of dissent. Even if India says there is democracy in Kashmir, is this democracy? It is a dictatorship where media and so called civil society is allowed to issue diktats,” Tariq Hameed, a shopkeeper said in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk.

We have zero tolerance towards terrorism, separatism: Centre after Masarat Alam’s arrest

Jammu: As separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir, Centre on Friday said it was keeping a “close watch” on the situation in the state and there would be “zero tolerance” militancy and separatism.

MoS PMO Jitendra Singh said the Centre had a zero tolerance policy towards terrorism and separatism. PIB

MoS PMO Jitendra Singh said the Centre had a zero tolerance policy towards terrorism and separatism. PIB

Holding that the BJP-PDP alliance in the state was done “purely” for the sake of governance despite “quite divergent ideologies”, Union Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh said there would be no compromise on its principles.

The remarks by the Minister came after the arrest of Alam in connection with the raising of Pakistani flags during a rally in the state on Wednesday.

“The central government is keeping a close watch on situation in J&K. Union Home Ministry is keeping itself abreast with all the sequence of the events from time to time. They are also giving most valuable guidance to the state of J&K,” he said.

“As far as BJP is concerned both at Centre and states, our stand has been very consistent as far as nationalism, patriotism is concerned. We follow a policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism, towards separatism…The coalition, which has come in Jammu and Kashmir is purely for the sake of governance,” he said.

Singh made it clear that there would be no compromise on principles.

“There is going to be no compromise on principles, which are very close to our heart for 60-65 years… No body should get away with this impression that merely for the existence in government in coalition, the BJP would be ready to compromise on any of these principles,” Singh said.

The minister also noted that due to fractured poll mandate in J&K, BJP and PDP, which emerged as the two largest parties, came together to form a government to discharge democratic responsibilities “purely for the sake of governance” based on a common minimum programme.

“I am sure that with today’s experience also, both the parties will learn not to trespass into each other’s domain and ideological stands,” he said while hoping that both will instead concentrate their energies on issues of larger interest to the common man.

He also expressed hope that the two parties would “learn to agree on the issues on which we do not see eye-to-eye and not create these contentious situations from time to time.”

PTI

Digvijaya Singh wants to know under which sections Masarat Alam was arrested

The FIR registered against Geelani, Alam and others was under various sections of Ranbir Penal Code and Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act.
File Photo

Separatist leader Masarat Alam was on Friday arrested for waving Pakistani flags and raising pro-Pak slogans. Before his formal arrest, hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Masarat Alam were on Thursday put under house arrest.Soon upon Alam’s arrest, Congress leader, Digvijaya Singh took to micro blogging site demanding the information on under which sections these two were booked.Digvijaya tweeted, “Want to know under what sections Alam and Geelani have been arrested. Have they been arrested for Sedition or Waging a War against the nation.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The state Government, in which BJP is an alliance partner, came in for flak over its decision to allow Geelani to hold the rally in Srinagar city which comes after a gap of five years.During the rally, separatist Alam, released from jail last month, praised founder of Lashker-e-Taiba terror outfit Hafeez Sayeed and asked people to join hands with his outfit.Bowing to the pressure from ally BJP and Central Home Ministry, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammaed Sayeed denied permission for Friday’s congregation. and said pro-Pak slogans were ‘not acceptable’ and ‘will not be tolerated’.

Mufti-led J&K govt bows to BJP pressure: Masarat Alam arrested once again

Hours after being placed under house arrest for waving a Pakistani flag and raising anti-India slogans at a rally held by Syed Geelani, separatist leader Masarat Alam, who was released from jail in controversial circumstances by J&K chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed has been arrested once again.

Alam was arrested early this morning, according to media reports.

Speaking to CNN-IBN, Alam said that he was not surprised by the move and had expected nothing less of the government.

PTIPTI

PTI

Alam, along with Geelani was scheduled to hold another rally at Tral town in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Police had also taken steps to ensure that there would be no movement towards Tral. The Indian Express said that the move came “after the BJP told the PDP, its alliance partner in J&K, that the government should not allow the hardliner separatist to hold the rally in the South Kashmir town.”

Earlier, the Jammu & Kashmir Police filed a case under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against Geelani and separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat for raising anti-national slogans during a rally in Srinagar on Wednesday. Cases were registered against Geelani, Bhat and Peer Saifullah under section 13 of UAPA, the Times of India reported.

Flayed for allowing the hardline Hurriyat leader to hold the rally in Srinagar, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed said that the waving of Pakistani flags and raising pro-Pak slogans were “not acceptable” and “will not be tolerated”.

As pointed out by Firstpost senior editor Sandipan Sharma, the political implications of the rally were egg on the faces of both the BJP and PDP, who had so raised the expectations of the people in the state.

“When nearly 70 percent of voters came out to participate in the recent assembly elections in J& K, it was assumed to be a mandate for peace, a stamp of approval on the Indian democratic traditions. Instead, we are hearing pro-Pak slogans. When Narendra Modi and his nationalist party allied with Mufti to form the government, it was assumed that the Valley would turn saffron. Instead, separatists like Masarat must be feeling proud seeing how green his Valley is today. The tone of Geelani’s speech, and the zest of his supporters, suggest that the tricolor is under a cloud, and the crescent and star is rising again.”

Sayeed was called hours after the rally in Srinagar on Wednesday by Home Minister Rajnath Singh asking him to take “immediate and stringent” action against the law breakers.

The Home Minister earlier on Thursday again had asserted, “We will not tolerate anyone raising slogans like ‘Pakistan zindabad’ on Indian soil.

“There can be no compromise on national security. Politics cannot impinge on national security,” he had reportedly told Sayeed.

Pushed on the backfoot, Sayeed had said, “I think authorities have taken note of that. They have taken a video of what has happened. I think law will take its own course, action will be taken”.

Masarat Alam, Geelani joining forces against India exposes BJP-PDP govt in J&K

It is rare for people in India and Pakistan to listen to the same person speak on radio. But Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s appeal transcends the India-Pakistan border.

On Wednesday, the separatist leader, who leads a conglomeration of several pro-Pakistan groups in Kashmir, emerged from his winter home in Delhi and immediately raised the temperature in the Valley.

Scenes from the rally yesterday: PTIScenes from the rally yesterday: PTI

Scenes from the rally yesterday: PTI

At a rally to greet him in Srinagar, where he arrived after hibernating in Delhi on the advice of his doctor, participants raised anti-India slogans, waved Pakistani flags, reminded Narendra Modi that his hands are ‘soaked with the blood of Muslims’ and issued stern warnings to chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed against strengthening the ‘status quo.’

This was a scene that could have taken place anywhere in Pakistan.

The rally was broadcast live in Muzzafarabad, capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for the benefit of Geelani’s intended audience. Listeners cheered and applauded as he spoke of Azaadi.

Standing next to Geelani was the man on whom Mufti had bet on heavily to mend relations with separatists: Masarat Alam, Geelani’s rumoured heir and the man who was released from jail recently.

But instead of reciprocating Mufti’s gesture, he was busy rousing the crowd against his government and its partners in Delhi and egging on the ‘enthusiastic youngsters’ who were all praising Pakistan.

Irony may have died a thousand deaths on radio and in Srinagar.

When nearly 70 percent of voters came out to participate in the recent assembly elections in J& K, it was assumed to be a mandate for peace, a stamp of approval on the Indian democratic traditions.

Instead, we are hearing pro-Pak slogans.

When Narendra Modi and his nationalist party allied with Mufti to form the government, it was assumed that the Valley would turn saffron. Instead, separatists like Masarat must be feeling proud seeing how green his Valley is today.

The tone of Geelani’s speech, and the zest of his supporters, suggest that the tricolor is under a cloud, and the crescent and star is rising again.

“Before resolving the Kashmir issue and taking everyone on board including separatists and Pakistan, Mufti should make his views public about whether he accepts that Kashmir is under Indian occupation and whether people should be given the right to self-determination or not,” Geelani said.

“Mufti recently termed J&K as the crown of India but he must know that Indian forces have killed six lakh people and grabbed the J&K territory by using its military might. Mufti wants status quo but we reject it and make it to clear to him that people of J&K want complete independence,” he added.

Is this what Mufti had hoped to hear when he rolled out his ‘politics of sentiments’ in the Valley? After all, he has gone out of his way over the past few weeks to mollycoddle separatists and humour Pakistan.

Soon after being sworn-in, he thanked Pakistan, Hurriyat and hardliners for allowing free and fair elections in the state. A few days later, he decided to free Alam. And, somewhere in between, he demanded that the remains of Afzal Guru be handed back to the family.

Obviously, Mufti is not getting it right.

Already, people in the Valley are arguing that the PDP-BJP alliance will not lead to any dramatic solution of the Kashmir problem. And that Mufti’s gestures are futile.

A Geelani supporter waves a Pakistan flag at the rally: PTIA Geelani supporter waves a Pakistan flag at the rally: PTI

A Geelani supporter waves a Pakistan flag at the rally: PTI

In an acerbic criticism of the alliance, Dr Syed M Inayatullah Andrabi recently argued in local daily Kashmir Reader that “Kashmir politics has only two opposite poles, one camp regards accession to India as final, the other resisting it and holding that people of J&K are yet to decide their political future through a free and fair plebiscite. PDP and BJP subscribe to the former and as such are on the same side. As regards other ideological areas, for example, those relating to social, economic, and foreign policy issues they can have differences but that is irrelevant here.”

Obviously, Kashmiris are not impressed by Mufti’s strategy. Even terrorists and their supporters in Pakistan are not willing to give him a chance. Kashmir is once again back to where it all began: Demands for azaadi, talk of plebiscite and anti-Indian rhetoric.

“People of this country have blessed us like Lord Shiva and given us very big responsibility. BJP will never compromise on national interest, merely to remain in power in J&K,” BJP chief Amit Shah had said, addressing BJP workers in his assembly constituency Naranpura in March.

“The government (in J&K) has been formed only to solve Kashmir issue and I have full trust that we will find a solution to this issue,” he had further promised.

If only Shah had tuned in to Geelani radio on Wednesday, he would have realised that his promise of a solution is turning out to be just another jumla.

Pakistan flag row: Pressure mounts on Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to arrest Masarat Alam

Pressure is mounting on Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government to arrest Hurriyat hardliner Masarat Alam who has said he would not be bogged down by police cases and pro-Pakistan slogans would be raised in future rallies too.

Shiv Sena and Dogra Front workers in Jammu burn an effigy of separatist leader Masarat Alam on Thursday demanding action against him for hoisting Pakistani flags during a rally in Srinagar on Wednesday

PTI
Pressure is mounting on Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government to arrest Hurriyat hardliner Masarat Alam who has said he would not be bogged down by police cases and pro-Pakistan slogans would be raised in future rallies too.Police have registered a case under section 13 of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 147 (rioting), 341 (wrongful restraint), 336 (does any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life), 427 (commits mischief) of Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) against Alam, Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Peer Saifullah and other separatist leaders for provocative activities and hoisting Pakistani flag in Hyderpora on Wednesday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Twenty four hours on, nobody has been arrested or questioned by the police so far, sparking fresh wave of anger among Congress and the BJP, which is the ruling alliance partner of the People’s Democratic Party.”Investigation is on and it (arresting Alam and others) will be decided accordingly. Case has been registered and investigating officer is doing his job,” Koondaveeti Rajendra Kumar, director general of police, Jammu and Kashmir, told dna.Facing flak Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed broke his silence saying law will take its own course. “I think law will take its own course, action will be taken… But something which is not acceptable (hoisting of Pakistan flag or raising Pakistan slogans) will not be tolerated,” said Mufti. But Mufti’s alliance partner BJP is not buying the argument saying nothing but arrest of Alam would serve the purpose.”I want action against Masarat Alam as soon as possible. I am hopeful that state government will take action as per the law. The issue of national security cannot be compromised. The case has rightly been registered against them. It is a straight case of sedition,” said Rajiv Jasrotia, BJP State General Secretary and MLA from Kathua constituency.Alam however remained defiant saying he would not be bogged down by police cases and pro Pakistan slogans are part of Kashmir’s struggle.”Since 1947 people have been raising slogans in favour of Pakistan and there is nothing new. Was not Pakistani flag unfurled on Ghanta Ghar Lal Chowk in 2008? It is not first time this is happening. In future these slogans would be shouted again in the rallies,” Alam told dna.Hurriyat hardliner noted that the arrest is nothing new for him. “We will never be cowed down by these FIRs. I am not afraid of my arrest,” he said.

LIVE: Syed Ali Shah Geelani put under house arrest, Masarat Alam Bhat may follow soon

22:34 IST Thursday, 16 April 2015Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has been put under house arrest, according to reports in the media. It is also being said that Masarat Alam will face house arrest very soon.The Jammu and Kashmir BJP, which is a part of the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state, had demanded the immediate arrest of both Geelani and Masarat, saying registration of an FIR against them was ‘not enough’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have conveyed to our coalition partner especially to the chief minister who holds the home ministry that we are not satisfied with mere registration of the FIR against Masarat Alam and Syed Ali Shah Geelani for their anti-national activities, we want their immediate arrest,” J-K BJP chief spokesman Sunil Sethi said.He said the party was of the opinion that activities of Masarat Alam pose a threat to the national security. However, the hardline wing of the Hurriyat Conference on Thursday had condemned registration of cases against its chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Masarat Alam Bhat, saying the outfit will not be “cowed down” by such actions.”We condemn the registration of an FIR against Hurriyat leaders in strongest terms. We will not be cowed down by such actions. “If seeking the right to freedom is a crime, then we will continue doing such things and no power on the earth can prevent us.The registration of a case exposes the assertion of (Chief Minister) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed that it is the battle of ideas. “His government could not bear even a single peaceful rally organised by Hurriyat,” the amalgam said in a statement in Srinagar. The statement was released after a meeting of Hurriyat’s Majlis-e-Shoura (advisory board) chaired by Geelani at his Hyderpora residence.21:25 IST Thursday, 16 April 2015Separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat had on Thursday denied waving Pakistani flag at a rally organised to welcome his senior Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Srinagar, but said it was a representation of the feelings, aspirations and sentiments of the people across Kashmir.A day after being slapped with Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for anti-national activities, the hardline Hurriyat leader had come out with clarification saying he did not wave the Pakistani flag and should not be held responsible for that.”There was a welcome programme for Geelani. Some youth had (Pakistani) flags there. Why should I be held responsible for it?” Bhat, who was released last month after being detained under Public Safety Act for more than four years, said.”This is a general trend in the state and not one man’s doing. To hold one person responsible for it, I do not think is the right thing,” he said.Asked about the FIR against him in connection with yesterday’s rally, he said it was nothing new for him. On Geelani’s call for march to Tral on Friday where two youth were killed in an army operation earlier this week, Bhat said “we will see who all turn up”.”It is not only Indian administration (officials) who have a right to live in Jammu and Kashmir. We are sons of the soil and we have a right to live here. This is our land …,” he added.After a gap of five years, Jammu and Kashmir Government on Wednesday allowed hardline separatist leader Geelani to hold a public rally on the outskirts of Srinagar city where his supporters including Alam raised pro-Pakistan slogans and others waved Pakistani flags. Also read: Waving of Pakistani flags, raising pro-Pakistani slogans ‘unacceptable’: Mufti(With PTI inputs)

J&K Deputy CM says action against Masarat Alam to be taken at appropriate time

Jammu: Action against Masarat Alam will be taken at an appropriate time keeping in view the “local situation”, Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Kumar Singh said tonight, after the separatist leader raised pro-Pakistan slogans at a rally near Srinagar city.

“See the situation in Kashmir. You should see the mob. We will take action under appropriate law and appropriate time… (An) FIR has been lodged and police will take action at appropriate time,” Singh said.

File photo of Masarat Alam. AFPFile photo of Masarat Alam. AFP

File photo of Masarat Alam. AFP

Asked about the arrest of Alam, he said “a case for anti-India remarks will be slapped against him (Masarat Alam)” and rejected suggestions that a long rope was being given to the separatists and hardliners during the BJP-PDP coalition rule.

“These statements are totally wrong,” he said. The senior BJP leader said law will take its own course.

“We will be conceding to the local situation in Kashmir and we will act and act tough,” he said.

“These people do talk like this (allegations against the coalition government)… From time to time, action would be taken as per the law. There is law. We will not accept and tolerate the war waged by those against the country,” he said.

“J&K people has given us mandate and apart from development, we will take measures that anti-India elements does not rule the roost,” he said, adding “Masarat Alam was not released by the this coalition government but by the Supreme court of India.”

He said BJP and this coalition will not tolerate any anti-India movement in Kashmir.

After a gap of five years, Jammu and Kashmir Government today allowed hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to hold a public rally in the outskirts of Srinagar city where his supporters including Masarat Alam, released from jail last month, raised pro-Pakistan slogans and others waved Pakistani flags.

PTI

Geelani, Masarat Alam joining forces against India exposes PDP-BJP in Kashmir

It is rare for people in India and Pakistan to listen to the same person speak on radio. But Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s appeal transcends the India-Pakistan border.

On Wednesday, the separatist leader, who leads a conglomeration of several pro-Pakistan groups in Kashmir, emerged from his winter home in Delhi and immediately raised the temperature in the Valley.

Scenes from the rally yesterday: PTIScenes from the rally yesterday: PTI

Scenes from the rally yesterday: PTI

At a rally to greet him in Srinagar, where he arrived after hibernating in Delhi on the advice of his doctor, participants raised anti-India slogans, waved Pakistani flags, reminded Narendra Modi that his hands are ‘soaked with the blood of Muslims’ and issued stern warnings to chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed against strengthening the ‘status quo.’

This was a scene that could have taken place anywhere in Pakistan.

The rally was broadcast live in Muzzafarabad, capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir for the benefit of Geelani’s intended audience. Listeners cheered and applauded as he spoke of Azaadi.

Standing next to Geelani was the man on whom Mufti had bet on heavily to mend relations with separatists: Masarat Alam, Geelani’s rumoured heir and the man who was released from jail recently.

But instead of reciprocating Mufti’s gesture, he was busy rousing the crowd against his government and its partners in Delhi and egging on the ‘enthusiastic youngsters’ who were all praising Pakistan.

Irony may have died a thousand deaths on radio and in Srinagar.

When nearly 70 percent of voters came out to participate in the recent assembly elections in J& K, it was assumed to be a mandate for peace, a stamp of approval on the Indian democratic traditions.

Instead, we are hearing pro-Pak slogans.

When Narendra Modi and his nationalist party allied with Mufti to form the government, it was assumed that the Valley would turn saffron. Instead, separatists like Masarat must be feeling proud seeing how green his Valley is today.

The tone of Geelani’s speech, and the zest of his supporters, suggest that the tricolor is under a cloud, and the crescent and star is rising again.

“Before resolving the Kashmir issue and taking everyone on board including separatists and Pakistan, Mufti should make his views public about whether he accepts that Kashmir is under Indian occupation and whether people should be given the right to self-determination or not,” Geelani said.

“Mufti recently termed J&K as the crown of India but he must know that Indian forces have killed six lakh people and grabbed the J&K territory by using its military might. Mufti wants status quo but we reject it and make it to clear to him that people of J&K want complete independence,” he added.

Is this what Mufti had hoped to hear when he rolled out his ‘politics of sentiments’ in the Valley? After all, he has gone out of his way over the past few weeks to mollycoddle separatists and humour Pakistan.

Soon after being sworn-in, he thanked Pakistan, Hurriyat and hardliners for allowing free and fair elections in the state. A few days later, he decided to free Alam. And, somewhere in between, he demanded that the remains of Afzal Guru be handed back to the family.

Obviously, Mufti is not getting it right.

Already, people in the Valley are arguing that the PDP-BJP alliance will not lead to any dramatic solution of the Kashmir problem. And that Mufti’s gestures are futile.

A Geelani supporter waves a Pakistan flag at the rally: PTIA Geelani supporter waves a Pakistan flag at the rally: PTI

A Geelani supporter waves a Pakistan flag at the rally: PTI

In an acerbic criticism of the alliance, Dr Syed M Inayatullah Andrabi recently argued in local daily Kashmir Reader that “Kashmir politics has only two opposite poles, one camp regards accession to India as final, the other resisting it and holding that people of J&K are yet to decide their political future through a free and fair plebiscite. PDP and BJP subscribe to the former and as such are on the same side. As regards other ideological areas, for example, those relating to social, economic, and foreign policy issues they can have differences but that is irrelevant here.”

Obviously, Kashmiris are not impressed by Mufti’s strategy. Even terrorists and their supporters in Pakistan are not willing to give him a chance. Kashmir is once again back to where it all began: Demands for azaadi, talk of plebiscite and anti-Indian rhetoric.

“People of this country have blessed us like Lord Shiva and given us very big responsibility. BJP will never compromise on national interest, merely to remain in power in J&K,” BJP chief Amit Shah had said, addressing BJP workers in his assembly constituency Naranpura in March.

“The government (in J&K) has been formed only to solve Kashmir issue and I have full trust that we will find a solution to this issue,” he had further promised.

If only Shah had tuned in to Geelani radio on Wednesday, he would have realised that his promise of a solution is turning out to be just another jumla.

Further embarrassment for NDA? Masarat Alam may sue govt for his detention

In a move that is likely to cause further embarrassment to the Modi government, separatist Masarat Alam might sue the government over his continued detention from September 2014 to March 2015.

Separatist leader Masarat Alam might sue the government for his detention. AFP

Separatist leader Masarat Alam might sue the government for his detention. AFP

Alam might approach the courts and could even ask for compensation for his detention, which had lapsed in September 2014, according to The Times of India.

Even Home Minister Rajnath Singh had last week admitted that there were no fresh grounds to keep Alam under detention. He added there had been a delay in getting the approval of the detention order against Alam by the Jammu and Kashmir state government.

“On 15 September, 2014, a detention order was issued by the district magistrate which was received in the home department of the Jammu and Kashmir government after a lapse of 23 days,” Singh had said, adding that a detention order against a person needed to be approved by the state government within 12 days.

However, Singh had also said that the Centre had issued an advisory to the Jammu and Kashmir government, asking it to pursue all cases against Alam vigorously and ensure surveillance of the separatist leader.

“In its advisory, the Home Ministry has told the state government (of Jammu and Kashmir) that all the 27 criminal cases against Masarat Alam must be pursued vigorously,” Singh had said in the Lok Sabha.

“The state government has .. informed that a proper system is in place to have an effective surveillance of Masarat Alam Bhat’s activities. As and when anything adverse surfaces, appropriate action as envisaged by law will be taken.”

“The intelligence apparatus and local police work in tandem, thereby facilitating planning of advance and adequate deployment of law and order components for maintenance of peace and order in areas likely to be visited by Masarat Alam Bhat and other separatist elements,” Singh had said, citing a fresh report sent by the Mufti Sayeed government to the Centre.

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday had said that there was “nothing wrong” in Alam’s release. She had said the Jammu and Kashmir government headed by her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was only upholding a Supreme Court order by freeing the separatist.

“If upholding the direction of the Supreme Court is wrong, then what do we do?… You are trying to subvert your own Supreme Court when it comes to Kashmir. How can you do that?” she had said.

(With inputs from PTI)

J&K govt must ensure surveillance of Masarat Alam, pursue all cases against him: Rajnath

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in a new statement on the release of separatist Masarat Alam, said in the Lok Sabha today that the Centre had issued an advisory to the Jammu and Kashmir government, asking it to pursue all cases against Alam vigorously and ensure surveillance of the separatist leader.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said there were no fresh grounds for Masarat Alam's re-arrest. Reuters

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said there were no fresh grounds for Masarat Alam’s re-arrest. Reuters

“In its advisory, the Home Ministry has told the state government (of Jammu and Kashmir) that all the 27 criminal cases against Masarat Alam must be pursued vigorously,” said Singh in the Lok Sabha.

“The state government has .. informed that a proper system is in place to have an effective surveillance of Masarat Alam Bhat’s activities. As and when anything adverse surfaces, appropriate action as envisaged by law will be taken.

“The intelligence apparatus and local police work in tandem, thereby facilitating planning of advance and adequate deployment of law and order components for maintenance of peace and order in areas likely to be visited by Masarat Alam Bhat and other separatist elements,” Singh said citing a fresh report sent by the Mufti Sayeed government to the Centre.

He said the Home Ministry has issued to Jammu and Kashmir government an advisory which says, “A close surveillance must be ensured on such of the activities of Masarat Alam Bhat and his other associates and followers, which are deterimental to the public order or the unity and integrity of the country in general and the state of Jammu and Kashmir in particular.”

Stating that there were 27 cases against Masarat Alam who had been booked eight times since 2010, Singh also said that there were no fresh grounds to issue a new detention order against Alam. However, Singh added that the District Magistrate Jammu was further informed that a fresh order can, however, be issued for detention of the accused after following the procedure prescribed in the Public Safety Act and directions of the Supreme Court and thereafter the detenee was released on 7 March 2015.

“On 15 September, 2014, a detention order was issued by the district magistrate which was received in the home department of the Jammu and Kashmir government after a lapse of 23 days,” Singh said, adding that a detention order against a person needed to be approved by the state government within 12 days.

He also said the state has informed that the Supreme Court of India had also observed in March 2013 that if any fresh detention order is issued for detention with respect to Masarat Alam Bhat the same shall not come into force for a period of one week from the date of communication of the order to enable him to pursue appropriate legal remedy.

“The Jammu and Kashmir state government informed the district magistrate on 4 February that the detention of Masarat Alam ceased to remain enforced,” said Singh.

Rajnath Singh‘s statements come after BJP said on Wednesday that all contentious issues would be thoroughly discussed with the Kashmir government at the first meeting of the Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet on Wednesday.

PDP on Wednesday had also admitted that the decision to release Masarat Alam had been taken in haste. “The damage which has been done to the smooth functioning of the coalition government has been duly acknowledged by PDP. It has been acknowledged that the decision to release Masarat Alam was taken in haste which could have been avoided and consultation with BJP, as equal partner of coalition government, should have been done,” chief spokesperson of BJP’s state unit, Sunil Sethi had told reporters in Jammu.

The entire controversy began when Alam, who had been in detention for four and a half years, was released on 7 March. The separatist leader had been arrested in October 2010 at the end of agitation that year. His release had sparked outrage in the Parliament, with the Opposition attacking the government, saying the government placed its greed for power before national security.

(With inputs from PTI)

J&K govt must ensure surveillance of Masarat Alam, pursue cases against him: Rajnath

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in a new statement on the release of separatist Masarat Alam, said in the Lok Sabha today that the Centre had issued an advisory to the Jammu and Kashmir government, asking it to pursue all cases against Alam vigorously and ensure surveillance of the separatist leader.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said there were no fresh grounds for Masarat Alam's re-arrest. Reuters

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said there were no fresh grounds for Masarat Alam’s re-arrest. Reuters

“In its advisory, the Home Ministry has told the state government (of Jammu and Kashmir) that all the 27 criminal cases against Masarat Alam must be pursued vigorously,” said Singh in the Lok Sabha.

“The state government must also ensure surveillance of Masarat Alam and his supporters,” he said, adding that J&K  needed to ensure that the surveillance was done in tandem with the central government and its support.

Stating that there were 27 cases against Masarat Alam who had been booked eight times since 2010, Singh also said that there were no fresh grounds to issue a new detention order against Alam. “On 15 September, 2014, a detention order was issued by the district magistrate which was received in the home department of the Jammu and Kashmir government after a lapse of 23 days,” Singh said, adding that a detention order against a person needed to be approved by the state government within 12 days.

“The Jammu and Kashmir state govt informed the district magistrate on 4 February that the detention of Masarat Alam ceased to remain enforced,” said Singh.

Rajnath Singh‘s statements come after BJP said on Wednesday that all contentious issues would be thoroughly discussed with the Kashmir government at the first meeting of the Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet on Wednesday.

PDP on Wednesday had also admitted that the decision to release Masarat Alam had been taken in haste. “The damage which has been done to the smooth functioning of the coalition government has been duly acknowledged by PDP. It has been acknowledged that the decision to release Masarat Alam was taken in haste which could have been avoided and consultation with BJP, as equal partner of coalition government, should have been done,” chief spokesperson of BJP’s state unit, Sunil Sethi had told reporters in Jammu.

The entire controversy began when Alam, who had been in detention for four and a half years, was released on 7 March. The separatist leader had been arrested in October 2010 at the end of agitation that year. His release had sparked outrage in the Parliament, with the Opposition attacking the government, saying the government placed its greed for power before national security.

(With inputs from PTI)

Masarat Alam’s release: BJP says it has zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism

New Delhi: Amidst the row with its ruling coalition partner PDP in Jammu and Kashmir over the release of separatist leader Masarat Alam, BJP on Tuesday said it had a “zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism and separatism” and did not agree with the move.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Asked about the issue which has rocked the PDP-BJP alliance within days of its government taking charge in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that not only did it not agree with the way that Masarat, a Hurriyat hardliner, was released, but it was also against the decision.

“BJP adopts a zero-tolerance policy towards terrorism and separatism and will not bow down by allowing soft or weak policy on these issues,” he said.

“The manner in which a separatist leader has been released, BJP does not agree with it. We are against it. It is wrong,” he said, adding that Home Minister Rajnath Singh had on Monday made it clear in both Houses of Parliament.

“Home Minister is keeping a close watch on the issue and whatever will happen will be as per the Constitution and as per the law,” he said.

A delegation of Jammu and Kashmir BJP leaders will meet party president Amit Shah on Tuesday and apprise him of the meeting they had on Monday with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.

According to sources, a delegation of Jammu and Kashmir BJP leaders met Sayeed and handed a memorandum to him on the issue of Alam’s release while conveying the party leadership’s “annoyance” to him over the matter.

The party leaders conveyed to Sayeed that the decision to release Alam was not discussed with BJP and done unilaterally, which was against the agenda of the Common Minimum Programme agreed between the allies.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Monday in Lok Sabha denounced the release of Alam by the Jammu and Kashmir government, in which BJP is a partner, saying he shared the “outrage” over the unacceptable decision and would take whatever action was required.

“I assure the country and the House that whatever is happening there (in Jammu and Kashmir), the Union government was neither consulted not informed… Government does not accept such action.

“In one voice, we express our anger against those supporting separatists and misusing the law. In the coming days, we will take whatever action is required and we are committed to the nation’s integrity,” Modi had said.

PTI

Masarat Alam to be free: BJP shouldn’t fret over the release of a few bigots

The political temperature that is being raised over the release of Masarat Alam, a hardline Kashmiri separatist leader, xenophobe, and key organiser of stone-throwing mobs in the Muslim-dominated Valley in 2010 that left over a hundred people dead in its wake, is actually just posturing.

It was thus good to have Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi reassuring parliament today (9 March) that the centre does not agree with his release. While Singh said bail was often given when preventive detention crosses a certain length of time, he promised to make another statement once the J&K home ministry sent its report on Alam’s release. Modi intervened to make his own opposition to anti-national forces clear and told parliament that he did not need tutoring on “desh-bhakti.”

Masarat Alam. AFP/File imageMasarat Alam. AFP/File image

Masarat Alam. AFP/File image

However, both Singh and Modi know in their heart of hearts that despite the political embarrassment over Alam’s release, something like this was bound to happen if a dialogue was to begin with the extremists to normalise Jammu & Kashmir. The Congress and other opposition parties are happy to put the BJP on the backfoot over Alam’s release, having got a chance to play more-patriotic-than-thou. But that’s about it.

The BJP will have to learn to take the shellacking and move on if it is to play peace-maker in J&K. Waging peace is tougher than waging war, even if it is a war of words. If any mainstream national party can bring peace to the troubled state, it is the BJP. It is the only party with the perceived moral authority to make concessions without having to defend its patriotism, wrapped as it is in the colours of ‘Bharat mata’.

The BJP should also know that if it wants to start a dialogue in J&K, it has to let the separatists have their say and point out where they are wrong. Dialogue needs openness, and openness exposes bigots better than keeping them gagged. Keeping bigots in jail only lends them a halo – and sends the message to everyone that we are afraid of what they espouse. Look at how much egg we have on our faces by opposing the release of India’s Daughter.

Consider the case of Masarat Alam himself. If he sounds like a hero to separatists, his words carry an edge of bigotry, to say the least. We need to know this as much as we need to know about “male mindsets” that lead to rape and sexual harassment.

According to a report in The Indian Express, Alam said the following: “My principled stand is that Jammu and Kashmir is under occupation and that it should end,” he said. “There should be complete withdrawal of Indian armed forces”.

So far, so good. This kind of extreme statements are made by all separatists, including the Nagas. It was done by the Mizos too before they signed a deal with the Indian state.

But back to Alam. He said he saw no difference between the BJP, Congress, National Conference and PDP. This should be news to the parties now attacking the BJP. According to Alam, “all of then want to strengthen the Indian occupation. All of them want to persuade people to surrender… But we have apprehensions of attempts to change the demography of this state.”

Here, the cat is out of the bag. What Alam is objecting to is the very basis of common citizenship. He is attacking the constitution of India, and talking the bigoted language of a xenophobe. In his view, any Indian from outside J&K who comes to his state is attempting to change the demography.

He pointed to 2008 to make his stand clear: “They tried this (demographic change) in 2008, though there was a different government (PDP-Congress) then. People gave sacrifices and didn’t allow that… If it is tried again, we will not allow them to do.”

So what happened in 2008 that has Alam agitated? The J&K Governor had then made a proposal to set up a structure to shelter Amarnath pilgrims. The Muslims of the Valley objected, using various arguments (ecological damage was one of them), but the essential bottomline was clear to everybody: Muslim Kashmir did not want Hindu pilgrims to be benefited. There was no question of allowing any of the pilgrims to settle in J&K, but they objected nevertheless.

Consider what the Indian liberal-left would say if what Alam has now said about demographic change in Kashmir were to be said by the Assamese or by Hindus in any state in the north-east and West Bengal. Demographic change is more real here than in J&K, but we think it is bigoted to make the statement. We object to Raj Thackeray saying Biharis shouldn’t come to Mumbai, but is Alam saying anything different? The fact that there is an article 370 does not change the real intent of Alam’s statement one bit.

It should be called bigotry and xenophobia. The mere fact that Alam gets to say this and we don’t want to call it that tells us how shallow and hypocritical we are.

The fundamental issues in J&K are very simple, and all relate to basic principles – of human rights and citizenship.

First, there can be no going back on the state’s accession to the Indian Union, but this does not mean human rights in Kashmir can be treated as less important than elsewhere. We have to make the armed forces accountable for human rights violations, and, in due course, make the police the key players in maintaining day-to-day law and order. The army should move to protect the borders.

Second, J&K’s dialogue for autonomy and “azaadi” is no different from the freedoms that other Indian states seek. A solution can and must be found within the Indian Union whereby all Indian states, and not just J&K, are given significant autonomy. Only subjects like defence, foreign affairs, citizenship, macro-economy, monetary and fiscal policy are really key to an effective centre. The time has come for this federalist dialogue, and J&K is not the only state that needs this discussion.

Third, J&K cannot be a place barred for Indian citizens to travel, marry, trade and settle. The price of greater autonomy must be full integration in terms of a common citizenship. Xenophobia and bigotry cannot be part of a federal right. One nation, one citizenship has to be the norm. It is ridiculous that J&K women marrying outsiders are automatically denied some rights. Naturalised J&K citizens should have the same rights as those born and brought up there.

Fourth, Alam should know that the only attempt to change demography happened when his cohorts, aided by Islamists and Pakistan-trained terrorists, ethnically cleansed the Pandits out of the valley. He should first reverse that policy.

Fifth, Alam should also get his Hurriyat Conference to first talk secularism – which has to be the basis for any talks on autonomy. His hero Syed Geelani, part of the pro-Pakistani separatist cabal, should first abandon his bigoted call for imposing Shariat and promoting Islamisation in Kashmir.

The real issue is not whether Alam is inside jail or outside it. It is to expose the bigoted nature of the people espousing “azaadi” – it is code for bigotry and xenophobia. For this, it is better he is out than in. Now we can all know what he stands for. The last thing he needs is the halo of a  “freedom-fighter” who has been gagged by all-powerful India.

The BJP would be better off supporting freedom of expression so that the extremists fall on their own swords. The short-term embarrassment over the release of Masarat Alam is a small price to pay for its larger goal of integrating J&K with India. It is a cause worth pursuing.

Masarat Alam out of prison: BJP need not fret over the release of a few bigots

The political temperature that is being raised over the release of Masarat Alam, a hardline Kashmiri separatist leader, xenophobe, and key organiser of stone-throwing mobs in the Muslim-dominated Valley in 2010 that left over a hundred people dead in its wake, is actually just posturing.

It was thus good to have Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi reassuring parliament today (9 March) that the centre does not agree with his release. While Singh said bail was often given when preventive detention crosses a certain length of time, he promised to make another statement once the J&K home ministry sent its report on Alam’s release. Modi intervened to make his own opposition to anti-national forces clear and told parliament that he did not need tutoring on “desh-bhakti.”

Masarat Alam. AFP/File imageMasarat Alam. AFP/File image

Masarat Alam. AFP/File image

However, both Singh and Modi know in their heart of hearts that despite the political embarrassment over Alam’s release, something like this was bound to happen if a dialogue was to begin with the extremists to normalise Jammu & Kashmir. The Congress and other opposition parties are happy to put the BJP on the backfoot over Alam’s release, having got a chance to play more-patriotic-than-thou. But that’s about it.

The BJP will have to learn to take the shellacking and move on if it is to play peace-maker in J&K. Waging peace is tougher than waging war, even if it is a war of words. If any mainstream national party can bring peace to the troubled state, it is the BJP. It is the only party with the perceived moral authority to make concessions without having to defend its patriotism, wrapped as it is in the colours of ‘Bharat mata’.

The BJP should also know that if it wants to start a dialogue in J&K, it has to let the separatists have their say and point out where they are wrong. Dialogue needs openness, and openness exposes bigots better than keeping them gagged. Keeping bigots in jail only lends them a halo – and sends the message to everyone that we are afraid of what they espouse. Look at how much egg we have on our faces by opposing the release of India’s Daughter.

Consider the case of Masarat Alam himself. If he sounds like a hero to separatists, his words carry an edge of bigotry, to say the least. We need to know this as much as we need to know about “male mindsets” that lead to rape and sexual harassment.

According to a report in The Indian Express, Alam said the following: “My principled stand is that Jammu and Kashmir is under occupation and that it should end,” he said. “There should be complete withdrawal of Indian armed forces”.

So far, so good. This kind of extreme statements are made by all separatists, including the Nagas. It was done by the Mizos too before they signed a deal with the Indian state.

But back to Alam. He said he saw no difference between the BJP, Congress, National Conference and PDP. This should be news to the parties now attacking the BJP. According to Alam, “all of then want to strengthen the Indian occupation. All of them want to persuade people to surrender… But we have apprehensions of attempts to change the demography of this state.”

Here, the cat is out of the bag. What Alam is objecting to is the very basis of common citizenship. He is attacking the constitution of India, and talking the bigoted language of a xenophobe. In his view, any Indian from outside J&K who comes to his state is attempting to change the demography.

He pointed to 2008 to make his stand clear: “They tried this (demographic change) in 2008, though there was a different government (PDP-Congress) then. People gave sacrifices and didn’t allow that… If it is tried again, we will not allow them to do.”

So what happened in 2008 that has Alam agitated? The J&K Governor had then made a proposal to set up a structure to shelter Amarnath pilgrims. The Muslims of the Valley objected, using various arguments (ecological damage was one of them), but the essential bottomline was clear to everybody: Muslim Kashmir did not want Hindu pilgrims to be benefited. There was no question of allowing any of the pilgrims to settle in J&K, but they objected nevertheless.

Consider what the Indian liberal-left would say if what Alam has now said about demographic change in Kashmir were to be said by the Assamese or by Hindus in any state in the north-east and West Bengal. Demographic change is more real here than in J&K, but we think it is bigoted to make the statement. We object to Raj Thackeray saying Biharis shouldn’t come to Mumbai, but is Alam saying anything different? The fact that there is an article 370 does not change the real intent of Alam’s statement one bit.

It should be called bigotry and xenophobia. The mere fact that Alam gets to say this and we don’t want to call it that tells us how shallow and hypocritical we are.

The fundamental issues in J&K are very simple, and all relate to basic principles – of human rights and citizenship.

First, there can be no going back on the state’s accession to the Indian Union, but this does not mean human rights in Kashmir can be treated as less important than elsewhere. We have to make the armed forces accountable for human rights violations, and, in due course, make the police the key players in maintaining day-to-day law and order. The army should move to protect the borders.

Second, J&K’s dialogue for autonomy and “azaadi” is no different from the freedoms that other Indian states seek. A solution can and must be found within the Indian Union whereby all Indian states, and not just J&K, are given significant autonomy. Only subjects like defence, foreign affairs, citizenship, macro-economy, monetary and fiscal policy are really key to an effective centre. The time has come for this federalist dialogue, and J&K is not the only state that needs this discussion.

Third, J&K cannot be a place barred for Indian citizens to travel, marry, trade and settle. The price of greater autonomy must be full integration in terms of a common citizenship. Xenophobia and bigotry cannot be part of a federal right. One nation, one citizenship has to be the norm. It is ridiculous that J&K women marrying outsiders are automatically denied some rights. Naturalised J&K citizens should have the same rights as those born and brought up there.

Fourth, Alam should know that the only attempt to change demography happened when his cohorts, aided by Islamists and Pakistan-trained terrorists, ethnically cleansed the Pandits out of the valley. He should first reverse that policy.

Fifth, Alam should also get his Hurriyat Conference to first talk secularism – which has to be the basis for any talks on autonomy. His hero Syed Geelani, part of the pro-Pakistani separatist cabal, should first abandon his bigoted call for imposing Shariat and promoting Islamisation in Kashmir.

The real issue is not whether Alam is inside jail or outside it. It is to expose the bigoted nature of the people espousing “azaadi” – it is code for bigotry and xenophobia. For this, it is better he is out than in. Now we can all know what he stands for. The last thing he needs is the halo of a  “freedom-fighter” who has been gagged by all-powerful India.

The BJP would be better off supporting freedom of expression so that the extremists fall on their own swords. The short-term embarrassment over the release of Masarat Alam is a small price to pay for its larger goal of integrating J&K with India. It is a cause worth pursuing.

Masarat Alam out of jail: BJP need not fret over the release of a few bigots

The political temperature that is being raised over the release of Masarat Alam, a hardline Kashmiri separatist leader, xenophobe, and key organiser of stone-throwing mobs in the Muslim-dominated Valley in 2010 that left over a hundred people dead in its wake, is actually just posturing.

It was thus good to have Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi reassuring parliament today (9 March) that the centre does not agree with his release. While Singh said bail was often given when preventive detention crosses a certain length of time, he promised to make another statement once the J&K home ministry sent its report on Alam’s release. Modi intervened to make his own opposition to anti-national forces clear and told parliament that he did not need tutoring on “desh-bhakti.”

Masarat Alam. AFP/File imageMasarat Alam. AFP/File image

Masarat Alam. AFP/File image

However, both Singh and Modi know in their heart of hearts that despite the political embarrassment over Alam’s release, something like this was bound to happen if a dialogue was to begin with the extremists to normalise Jammu & Kashmir. The Congress and other opposition parties are happy to put the BJP on the backfoot over Alam’s release, having got a chance to play more-patriotic-than-thou. But that’s about it.

The BJP will have to learn to take the shellacking and move on if it is to play peace-maker in J&K. Waging peace is tougher than waging war, even if it is a war of words. If any mainstream national party can bring peace to the troubled state, it is the BJP. It is the only party with the perceived moral authority to make concessions without having to defend its patriotism, wrapped as it is in the colours of ‘Bharat mata’.

The BJP should also know that if it wants to start a dialogue in J&K, it has to let the separatists have their say and point out where they are wrong. Dialogue needs openness, and openness exposes bigots better than keeping them gagged. Keeping bigots in jail only lends them a halo – and sends the message to everyone that we are afraid of what they espouse. Look at how much egg we have on our faces by opposing the release of India’s Daughter.

Consider the case of Masarat Alam himself. If he sounds like a hero to separatists, his words carry an edge of bigotry, to say the least. We need to know this as much as we need to know about “male mindsets” that lead to rape and sexual harassment.

According to a report in The Indian Express, Alam said the following: “My principled stand is that Jammu and Kashmir is under occupation and that it should end,” he said. “There should be complete withdrawal of Indian armed forces”.

So far, so good. This kind of extreme statements are made by all separatists, including the Nagas. It was done by the Mizos too before they signed a deal with the Indian state.

But back to Alam. He said he saw no difference between the BJP, Congress, National Conference and PDP. This should be news to the parties now attacking the BJP. According to Alam, “all of then want to strengthen the Indian occupation. All of them want to persuade people to surrender… But we have apprehensions of attempts to change the demography of this state.”

Here, the cat is out of the bag. What Alam is objecting to is the very basis of common citizenship. He is attacking the constitution of India, and talking the bigoted language of a xenophobe. In his view, any Indian from outside J&K who comes to his state is attempting to change the demography.

He pointed to 2008 to make his stand clear: “They tried this (demographic change) in 2008, though there was a different government (PDP-Congress) then. People gave sacrifices and didn’t allow that… If it is tried again, we will not allow them to do.”

So what happened in 2008 that has Alam agitated? The J&K Governor had then made a proposal to set up a structure to shelter Amarnath pilgrims. The Muslims of the Valley objected, using various arguments (ecological damage was one of them), but the essential bottomline was clear to everybody: Muslim Kashmir did not want Hindu pilgrims to be benefited. There was no question of allowing any of the pilgrims to settle in J&K, but they objected nevertheless.

Consider what the Indian liberal-left would say if what Alam has now said about demographic change in Kashmir were to be said by the Assamese or by Hindus in any state in the north-east and West Bengal. Demographic change is more real here than in J&K, but we think it is bigoted to make the statement. We object to Raj Thackeray saying Biharis shouldn’t come to Mumbai, but is Alam saying anything different? The fact that there is an article 370 does not change the real intent of Alam’s statement one bit.

It should be called bigotry and xenophobia. The mere fact that Alam gets to say this and we don’t want to call it that tells us how shallow and hypocritical we are.

The fundamental issues in J&K are very simple, and all relate to basic principles – of human rights and citizenship.

First, there can be no going back on the state’s accession to the Indian Union, but this does not mean human rights in Kashmir can be treated as less important than elsewhere. We have to make the armed forces accountable for human rights violations, and, in due course, make the police the key players in maintaining day-to-day law and order. The army should move to protect the borders.

Second, J&K’s dialogue for autonomy and “azaadi” is no different from the freedoms that other Indian states seek. A solution can and must be found within the Indian Union whereby all Indian states, and not just J&K, are given significant autonomy. Only subjects like defence, foreign affairs, citizenship, macro-economy, monetary and fiscal policy are really key to an effective centre. The time has come for this federalist dialogue, and J&K is not the only state that needs this discussion.

Third, J&K cannot be a place barred for Indian citizens to travel, marry, trade and settle. The price of greater autonomy must be full integration in terms of a common citizenship. Xenophobia and bigotry cannot be part of a federal right. One nation, one citizenship has to be the norm. It is ridiculous that J&K women marrying outsiders are automatically denied some rights. Naturalised J&K citizens should have the same rights as those born and brought up there.

Fourth, Alam should know that the only attempt to change demography happened when his cohorts, aided by Islamists and Pakistan-trained terrorists, ethnically cleansed the Pandits out of the valley. He should first reverse that policy.

Fifth, Alam should also get his Hurriyat Conference to first talk secularism – which has to be the basis for any talks on autonomy. His hero Syed Geelani, part of the pro-Pakistani separatist cabal, should first abandon his bigoted call for imposing Shariat and promoting Islamisation in Kashmir.

The real issue is not whether Alam is inside jail or outside it. It is to expose the bigoted nature of the people espousing “azaadi” – it is code for bigotry and xenophobia. For this, it is better he is out than in. Now we can all know what he stands for. The last thing he needs is the halo of a  “freedom-fighter” who has been gagged by all-powerful India.

The BJP would be better off supporting freedom of expression so that the extremists fall on their own swords. The short-term embarrassment over the release of Masarat Alam is a small price to pay for its larger goal of integrating J&K with India. It is a cause worth pursuing.

Masarat Alam case: The BJP shouldn’t fret over the release of a few bigots

The political temperature that is being raised over the release of Masarat Alam, a hardline Kashmiri separatist leader, xenophobe, and key organiser of stone-throwing mobs in the Muslim-dominated Valley in 2010 that left over a hundred people dead in its wake, is actually just posturing.

It was thus good to have Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi reassuring parliament today (9 March) that the centre does not agree with his release. While Singh said bail was often given when preventive detention crosses a certain length of time, he promised to make another statement once the J&K home ministry sent its report on Alam’s release. Modi intervened to make his own opposition to anti-national forces clear and told parliament that he did not need tutoring on “desh-bhakti.”

Masarat Alam. AFP/File imageMasarat Alam. AFP/File image

Masarat Alam. AFP/File image

However, both Singh and Modi know in their heart of hearts that despite the political embarrassment over Alam’s release, something like this was bound to happen if a dialogue was to begin with the extremists to normalise Jammu & Kashmir. The Congress and other opposition parties are happy to put the BJP on the backfoot over Alam’s release, having got a chance to play more-patriotic-than-thou. But that’s about it.

The BJP will have to learn to take the shellacking and move on if it is to play peace-maker in J&K. Waging peace is tougher than waging war, even if it is a war of words. If any mainstream national party can bring peace to the troubled state, it is the BJP. It is the only party with the perceived moral authority to make concessions without having to defend its patriotism, wrapped as it is in the colours of ‘Bharat mata’.

The BJP should also know that if it wants to start a dialogue in J&K, it has to let the separatists have their say and point out where they are wrong. Dialogue needs openness, and openness exposes bigots better than keeping them gagged. Keeping bigots in jail only lends them a halo – and sends the message to everyone that we are afraid of what they espouse. Look at how much egg we have on our faces by opposing the release of India’s Daughter.

Consider the case of Masarat Alam himself. If he sounds like a hero to separatists, his words carry an edge of bigotry, to say the least. We need to know this as much as we need to know about “male mindsets” that lead to rape and sexual harassment.

According to a report in The Indian Express, Alam said the following: “My principled stand is that Jammu and Kashmir is under occupation and that it should end,” he said. “There should be complete withdrawal of Indian armed forces”.

So far, so good. This kind of extreme statements are made by all separatists, including the Nagas. It was done by the Mizos too before they signed a deal with the Indian state.

But back to Alam. He said he saw no difference between the BJP, Congress, National Conference and PDP. This should be news to the parties now attacking the BJP. According to Alam, “all of then want to strengthen the Indian occupation. All of them want to persuade people to surrender… But we have apprehensions of attempts to change the demography of this state.”

Here, the cat is out of the bag. What Alam is objecting to is the very basis of common citizenship. He is attacking the constitution of India, and talking the bigoted language of a xenophobe. In his view, any Indian from outside J&K who comes to his state is attempting to change the demography.

He pointed to 2008 to make his stand clear: “They tried this (demographic change) in 2008, though there was a different government (PDP-Congress) then. People gave sacrifices and didn’t allow that… If it is tried again, we will not allow them to do.”

So what happened in 2008 that has Alam agitated? The J&K Governor had then made a proposal to set up a structure to shelter Amarnath pilgrims. The Muslims of the Valley objected, using various arguments (ecological damage was one of them), but the essential bottomline was clear to everybody: Muslim Kashmir did not want Hindu pilgrims to be benefited. There was no question of allowing any of the pilgrims to settle in J&K, but they objected nevertheless.

Consider what the Indian liberal-left would say if what Alam has now said about demographic change in Kashmir were to be said by the Assamese or by Hindus in any state in the north-east and West Bengal. Demographic change is more real here than in J&K, but we think it is bigoted to make the statement. We object to Raj Thackeray saying Biharis shouldn’t come to Mumbai, but is Alam saying anything different? The fact that there is an article 370 does not change the real intent of Alam’s statement one bit.

It should be called bigotry and xenophobia. The mere fact that Alam gets to say this and we don’t want to call it that tells us how shallow and hypocritical we are.

The fundamental issues in J&K are very simple, and all relate to basic principles – of human rights and citizenship.

First, there can be no going back on the state’s accession to the Indian Union, but this does not mean human rights in Kashmir can be treated as less important than elsewhere. We have to make the armed forces accountable for human rights violations, and, in due course, make the police the key players in maintaining day-to-day law and order. The army should move to protect the borders.

Second, J&K’s dialogue for autonomy and “azaadi” is no different from the freedoms that other Indian states seek. A solution can and must be found within the Indian Union whereby all Indian states, and not just J&K, are given significant autonomy. Only subjects like defence, foreign affairs, citizenship, macro-economy, monetary and fiscal policy are really key to an effective centre. The time has come for this federalist dialogue, and J&K is not the only state that needs this discussion.

Third, J&K cannot be a place barred for Indian citizens to travel, marry, trade and settle. The price of greater autonomy must be full integration in terms of a common citizenship. Xenophobia and bigotry cannot be part of a federal right. One nation, one citizenship has to be the norm. It is ridiculous that J&K women marrying outsiders are automatically denied some rights. Naturalised J&K citizens should have the same rights as those born and brought up there.

Fourth, Alam should know that the only attempt to change demography happened when his cohorts, aided by Islamists and Pakistan-trained terrorists, ethnically cleansed the Pandits out of the valley. He should first reverse that policy.

Fifth, Alam should also get his Hurriyat Conference to first talk secularism – which has to be the basis for any talks on autonomy. His hero Syed Geelani, part of the pro-Pakistani separatist cabal, should first abandon his bigoted call for imposing Shariat and promoting Islamisation in Kashmir.

The real issue is not whether Alam is inside jail or outside it. It is to expose the bigoted nature of the people espousing “azaadi” – it is code for bigotry and xenophobia. For this, it is better he is out than in. Now we can all know what he stands for. The last thing he needs is the halo of a  “freedom-fighter” who has been gagged by all-powerful India.

The BJP would be better off supporting freedom of expression so that the extremists fall on their own swords. The short-term embarrassment over the release of Masarat Alam is a small price to pay for its larger goal of integrating J&K with India. It is a cause worth pursuing.

Govt has done me no favour, release is part of judicial process: separatist Masarat Alam

Srinagar: Hardline separatist leader Masarat Alam, who was released yesterday after four and a half years of detention, today said the PDP-BJP government had done him no favour as his release was part of normal judicial process.

“I have not been done any favour by the government. My release is part of the normal judicial process,” Alam told PTI.

He said he had been repeatedly booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) even though “I had been granted bail by the concerned courts also.”

Ibnlive imageIbnlive image

Ibnlive image

On the controversy related to his release, the Muslim League leader said, “If there is any hue and cry over my release, it is their headache.”

Asked if his release was an indication of resumption of dialogue between the separatists and the government, Alam said a decision on the matter will be taken by Hurriyat Conference.

“We (Muslim League) are a part of the forum (Hurriyat Conference). Whatever decision the forum takes on talks, I will follow it,” he added.

The separatist leader was arrested in October 2010 at the end of agitation that year.

Alam rejected the suggestions that there was a secret deal between him and the state government over this release and it could lead to dialogue between the Centre and the separatists.

“What is the big deal in my release? I have been going in and coming out of jails for the last 20 years. What is new in my release now?” he asked.

PTI

Muslim League leader Masarat Alam freed from J&K prison after 4 years

Jammu: Masarat Alam, leader of the hardline-faction of Hurriyat, who had spearheaded the stone-pelting agitations in the valley in 2008 and 2010, was on Saturday released from prison following the new government’s policy of freeing political prisoners who do not face criminal charges.

The orders for the release of 42-year-old Alam, chief of the Jammu Kashmir Muslim League, has been issued by the Home Department and he is technically free, a top police official in Baramulla had said. DGP K Rajendra confirmed that Alam was released.

File photo of Massarat Alam. IBNLiveFile photo of Massarat Alam. IBNLive

File photo of Massarat Alam. IBNLive

Earlier in the day, Rajendra said that police will comply with the directions of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who has sought release of all political prisoners who do not face any criminal charge.

“Yes, all the directions issued by the government (on release of political prisoners from jails in the state) will be complied with. Let us be assured about it,” Director General of Police (DGP), J&K, K Rajendra Kumar told reporters on Saturday.

He was asked whether the process of release of political prisoners has begun at the level of the police.

“Any direction coming from the the government would be looked into and would be worked out,” the DGP said.

In a meeting with the police chief on Wednesday, Sayeed had asked the police to initiate a process of releasing all political prisoners in the State against whom no criminal charges have been registered.

He had also directed the DGP to prepare a comprehensive plan for the rehabilitation of surrendered and released militants.

Asked whether police has formulated any plan for release of separatists, including those who took part in stone pelting in 2008 and 2010, like separatists Masarat Alam and Qasim Faktoo, he said, “We will get back to you. We will come back with our views when we are ready with the blue print.”

“At the moment, we will not be able to say much on that. Let us work on that then we will get back to you,” he said.

“Alam will be shifted to Central Jail Srinagar where from he will be released,” District Magistrate Baramulla Talat Parvez had told PTI.

Alam, whose Muslim League is a constituent of the hardline Hurriyat Conference headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, was arrested in October 2010 for his alleged role in fuelling the anti-national protests during that year’s summer agitation that left more than 120 persons dead and thousands others injured.

PTI

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