Centre seeks report from Kashmir on Alam’s release
New Delhi, March 8
The central government on Sunday sought a report from Jammu and Kashmir on the release of separatist leader Masrat Alam from preventive detention.
“The Centre has asked the state government to send a report on the issue,” a home ministry official told IANS.
Alam, who was arrested during the 2010 unrest in the Kashmir Valley for allegedly inciting youth, was released by the newly-installed PDP-BJP coalition government on Saturday.At least 112 people were killed in bloody clashes between unruly mobs and security forces during the unrest in the valley.
Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had also said that all separatist leaders under detention would be released.
BJP flays decision to free Masarat Alam
The Bharaitya Janta Party (BJP), a coalition partner in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led government in Jammu, on Sunday criticised the controversial decision to release hardline separatist leader Masarat Alam and said its Ministers and legislators will meet to discuss the party stand over the “unilateral” step.
State BJP chief and MP Jugal Kishore Sharma said his party was not even consulted before the decision was taken.
“This step does not have consent of BJP. Nor was BJP consulted before taking such a decision,” he told reporters in Jammu amid widespread criticism of the decision to release the separatist leader who was responsible for fanning trouble in 2010 in which over 100 people died in Kashmir.
“We were not asked before releasing Masarat Alam. If they had asked us, we would not have given approval from our side on this and even today our consent is not with this decision,” he added.
Criticising the decision, Mr. Sharma said, “Such people should not have been released as they only spit anti-India venom… If you leave such people like this without any conditions, they will always resort to such (separatist) slogans.”
Underlining that this issue does not figure in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) on the basis of which the coalition government is running, he said the Ministers and legislators of BJP will discuss the matter and make its stand clear.
“All issues would be discussed in the meeting of BJP today. We will clear our stand to PDP. BJP is not dependent on any party. BJP is in power on its own strength,” he said, adding his party had joined hands with PDP for development of Jammu and Kashmir and for the betterment of people of the State.
To a question, Mr. Sharma said, “BJP has conveyed its stand (against the decision) and reacted to this. Our reaction will reach them (PDP).”
He added that “If BJP is not successful (on running the government with PDP), it will come to you and will announce about its decision“.
Asked whether BJP will opt out of the government, he said, “The situation has not come. We will sit with our partner and take a decision (with regard to such issue) so that in future such steps are not taken”.
“The issues, which do not have our consent, will not be tolerated,” the J&K BJP chief said, adding his party will be “seeking information” from PDP on the issue.
“After our meeting today, we will express our stand to them,” Mr. Sharma added.
He said such issues will also be discussed in the Steering Committee of BJP and PDP, which coordinates affairs of the State government. “All these issues would be put in the meeting for discussion, so that in future such situation are avoided and government runs smoothly for betterment of the people of J&K,” he added.
Mr. Sharma underlined the need for working together for good governance for ensuring development in J&K.
“We have to work together for the betterment of the people of J&K… The government formation has been there only for five to six days. We will sit together and hold talks with them (PDP),” he added.
“If there is any reaction from our side, we will come out with reaction to you and you facilitate it to the quarter of PDP,” he added.
On the issue of Mehbooba Mufti’s statement that she is not bothered about the coalition, Mr. Sharma said, “BJP have formed alliance on development agenda. The coalition has been formed on the agenda of betterment of people of J&K. We will continue to move forward on that. That is why we will hold meeting on this and will come back to you with our reaction.”
BJP will not take any such step which will not be liked by the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
No change on the ground, says Masarat Alam
Senior separatist Masarat Alam, whose release has caused a row, said on Sunday that a change in government did not mean any change in the reality on the ground.
“Changing [the State] governments does not change the reality on the ground. It does not affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Only the people [of the State] can change it,” he told PTI, a day after he was freed after four-and-a-half years of detention.
Mr. Alam, leader of the Muslim League, rejected suggestions that there was a secret deal between him and the State government over his release, and it could lead to a dialogue between the Centre and the Separatists. “What is the big deal in my release? I have been going to and coming out of jails for the past 20 years. What is new in my release now,” he asked.
He said the government did him no favour as his release was part of a normal judicial process, and the term of his detention under the Public Safety Act had expired. He had been repeatedly booked under the Public Safety Act, though “I had been granted bail by courts”.
Asked whether his release marked the resumption of talks between the separatists and the government, Mr. Alam said a decision would be taken by the Hurriyat Conference. “We [the Muslim League] are part of the forum [the Hurriyat Conference]. Whatever decision the forum takes, I will follow it,” he said.
He was arrested in October 2010 at the end of an agitation that year.