J&K puts on hold release of more political prisoners

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Under fire for the release of hardline separatist leader Masarat Alam, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday announced that there would be no further release of militants or political prisoners.

There is no such thing,” State Home Secretary Suresh Kumar said in reply to a question whether the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government will continue with the release of militants and political prisoners.

Who is Masarat Alam ?

  • He received his early education from the elite Tyndale Biscoe School in Srinagar. He graduated in science from Srinagar’s Sri Pratap College.
  • Alam joined the militant movement in the early 1990s and was part of the Hizbollah group.
  • He came into political prominence as one of the main organisers of the 2008 protests following the transfer of land to the Amarnath shrine board, and the 2010 protests following allegations of fake encounter against the Indian Army.
  • The violent 2010 protests in the Kashmir Valley started in June and left over 120 dead. Alam managed the protests issuing “calendars” for the protesters to follow.
  • He was arrested from near Srinagar city after being in hiding for four months.
  • Alam was arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA) — a preventive detention law in J&K under which anyone can be put into preventive custody for up to two years without trial.

No Public Safety Act could be re-framed against Masarat Alam, that is why he was released. Rest there is nothing more (releases),” Mr. Kumar said here.

Defending the decision to release Masarat, he said, “There is a limit to detaining someone under PSA. You can have maximum six months and one time more.”

“According to a Supreme Court judgement you cannot detain anyone again and again on the same charge. If you have done that there should be fresh charges against him.”

“This guy was under preventive detention since beginning of 2010. How long can he be continued under PSA? You have to abide by the rule of the country,” he said.

“Now media is making an issue out of it. Whom to explain what,” he said.

Referring to the release of Pakistani nationals, he said “It is a routine process. Those Pakistan nationals completed jail term and were repatriated back to Pakistan. There is no connection with this issue to the release of the militants.”

“We have released 3 to 4 Pakistanis some time back for their repatriation after completion of their jail term. The deportation papers of some Bangladeshi national have arrived and they will be released in April,” he said.

He said that every year Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, who complete imprisonment are repatriated back to Pakistan via Wagah border and other places and that is a routine thing.

BJP calls for ‘system’ to release separatists

In a separate development the BJP on Tuesday said it had no objections if PDP wanted to release other such leaders, but called for a proper system to be adopted to review their cases, even as it threatened to pull out of the ruling alliance in Jammu and Kashmir if the regional party went ahead with its “hidden agenda“.

“It (state government) should adopt a system (on the release of separatist leaders)… Our understanding is that this (Alam’s release) had to happen and we do not deny it. But there is a system (for it),” Ashok Koul, BJP state general secretary, told reporters here.

Referring to cabinet sub-committee formed for addressing issues of flood-affected people, Koul said the government could have formed a committee to look into such cases.

The committee could include the Chief Minister, DGP, chief secretary and ministers, to review the cases, and free those who are not convicted or have no FIR against them.

Koul said had a proper system been in place, there would not have been any protests over the release of Alam.

“This happened at once and because of that there are reactions across the country and even in Parliament. Now, even a party like Congress is trying to teach us lessons on patriotism,” the BJP leader said.

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