Mufti cuts no ice with freed separatist or BJP
In much embarrassment to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, a day after hardline Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam Bhat was released, the separatist said governments may change in Jammu and Kashmir but the reality in the state will remain same. Alam, who organised the anti-India protests of 2010 in the Valley that saw the death of 112 people, was freed from a Baramulla jail on Saturday evening. The decision has further strained the relationship between Mufti’s Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which have come together to form government.
Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry on Sunday sought a report from Jammu and Kashmir Government on circumstances leading to release from jail of hardline separatist leader Masarat Alam, who has over 15 cases pending against him.
Despite being a Sunday, officials of the Kashmir division in the Home Ministry worked overtime to gather all facts from the state government on the issue, which has led to strains in the PDP-BJP alliance.
The ministry wanted to know the reasons that led to the release of 44-year-old Alam, who spearheaded 2010 agitation, from the Baramulla jail on Saturday night.
According to sources, Alam had around 15 cases pending against him, which included those registered under section 120 and 121 Ranbir Penal Code (waging war against the country) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Fissures erupted within the week-old PDP-BJP coalition government over Alam’s release, with BJP slamming the “unilateral” decision and warning that such things would not be tolerated. The BJP said the decision was not a part of Common Minimum Programme (CMP) on the basis of which, the alliance government was being run but PDP differed, insisting that it is in tune with the CMP.
State BJP chief and MP Jugal Kishore Sharma said his party was not even consulted before the decision was taken. Senior state BJP leaders met on Sunday to discuss the issue, he said, adding his party will convey its “displeasure” to PDP leadership and ask it to follow the “coalition dharma.” “We had no prior information or knowledge on his release. This is not our decision and we had not given our consent on this,” he added.
PDP spokesman and Education Minister Naeem Akhtar, on the other hand, said the decision was in line with the CMP which talks about engaging all stakeholders for establishing peace in Jammu and Kashmir. “This (the release of Alam) has to be seen in proper perspective. It is an important part of our CMP to involve all stakeholders in the state, and across the Line of Control, for reconciliation and peace in the state,” said Akhtar, adding, “If you want to have a dialogue with all stakeholders, which includes these leaders, you cannot engage them by keeping them in jail without anything substantial against them.”