Stepping up the pressure on ally PDP, the BJP on Monday sought the re-arrest of Hurriyat hardliner Masarat Alam, saying his post-release “conduct” and “statements” are “fresh inputs to consider his fresh detention under the Public Safety Act”.
While the BJP lodged a formal written protest with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in Jammu on Monday, BJP president Amit Shah is also learnt to have spoken to Sayeed and conveyed his party’s displeasure over his “repeated controversial statements that have gone against the spirit of the coalition”.
BJP sources said Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are “really upset” with Sayeed for “prioritising PDP’s attempt to please its support base” rather than taking initiatives on the coalition’s development agenda. BJP leaders said while Alam’s release may have followed the normal legal process, Sayeed made it a political move to regain ground in the Valley, especially after the party’s decision to join hands with the BJP.
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“The party president, in his conversation with the Chief Minister on Sunday evening, reminded him that the decision was not discussed at the cabinet meeting or with the party leadership. The Chief Minister’s statement on the first day (giving credit to separatists and Pakistan for the success of the state elections) and his political move to release Alam have spoiled the conducive atmosphere for the coalition government to go ahead with its work,” said a party leader.
“The damage has already been done. It’s very difficult for the party to overcome this. Now we just have to wait and see the intensity of the damage,” said a BJP general secretary.
In Jammu, in a written complaint to Sayeed, the state BJP said: “The conduct of Alam after his release and the statements made by him… are fresh inputs to consider his fresh detention under Public Safety Act immediately… his remaining at large anymore will be detrimental to the security of the state and worsen the security scenario.” It added that “all pending FIRs against Alam must be immediately investigated and challans presented in court as per law.”
In his interview to some news agencies soon after his release, Alam was quoted as saying, “I have come from a small prison to a bigger one. However, I have the satisfaction that I can contribute to the struggle for cutting the chains of slavery.” He also said that he would “continue the freedom struggle” and that “changing governments do not change the ground reality… we will change it or the individuals.”
While J&K Principal Secretary, Home, Suresh Kumar said he was yet to see the interview, Director General of Police K Ranjendra said the law would take its course if “he has done something wrong”.
“We have told him that the government has to run as per the common minimum programme decided between both the coalition partners and any deviation from it will not be allowed,” said state BJP general secretary MLA Rajiv Jasrotia after meeting Sayeed.
“The government was formed with the understanding that both parties would work in unison to provide the desired good governance,” said the BJP letter. “Within one week of government formation, a number of statements have come from the PDP which are not in consonance with the true spirit of the CMP and have embarrassed the BJP in public,” it said.
“The recent release of Masarat Alam, a person with known anti-India and pro-Pakistan ideology, in a hush-hush manner, has created a situation of not only embarrassment, but concern for the BJP… it is being read as a step which does not go with the national interest and security of the state,” it said.
The BJP also asked Sayeed to constitute a steering committee with senior leaders of both the parties for discussions on all contentious issues before taking any decisions.
Meanwhile, the PDP maintained that the matter was being unnecessarily blown out of proportion. A senior PDP leader said that Alam had already been granted bail in various cases.
PDP spokesperson and Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar said Alam’s release was an issue within the ambit of the home department and there was no need to bring it up before the steering committee. “Tomorrow, if I as an Education Minister, order some transfer, will I have to first discuss it in the steering committee,” he asked.
BJP leaders said the coalition government was expected to prioritise a package for flood-hit areas and reinstate peace in the region. “Instead he is preparing his ground and compensating for the alliance with the BJP. He is just addressing his constituency and wanted to take credit for Alam’s release because the separatists, as well a part of the PDP’s support base, are not happy with the CMP,” said a BJP leader in Delhi.