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Masarat Alam back in jail for ‘sedition’, BJP says we got it done

Masarat Alam had earlier claimed that he did not wave a Pakistan flag to welcome Syed Geelani at a rally.

By: Express Web Desk Written by Mir Ehsan , Adil Akhzer | Srinagar |
Updated: April 18, 2015 8:46:07 am
masarat alam, masarat alam arrest, J&K Masarat Alam had earlier claimed that he did not wave a Pakistan flag to welcome Syed Geelani at a rally. (Source: Shuaib Masoodi)

Two days after he led a rally alongside Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, separatist leader Masarat Alam was Friday arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir police for “seditious activities”. The police also placed Geelani under house arrest.

Alam’s arrest, which came on a day the Hurriyat Conference was planning to hold a rally in south Kashmir’s Tral town, led to clashes between protesters and the police. The separatists have been protesting against the killing of a 25-year-old in Tral in an Army encounter.

Alam, who was controversially released from jail last month, was taken to a police station in Budgam, where cases against him and other separatist leaders had been registered for allegedly waving Pakistani flags and shouting pro-Pakistan and pro-Lashkar slogans at the rally in Srinagar on Wednesday. Alam denies that he waved the Pakistani flag.

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had demanded strict action against Alam. In Delhi, BJP rushed to take credit for the arrest, with party spokesperson Sambit Patra saying, “The moment Alam raised the Pakistani flag and shouted a pro-Pakistan slogan, the home minister gave a swift call to the CM, demanding that he should be arrested and action should be taken against him.”

Party sources said that both Rajnath and BJP president Amit Shah had put pressure on CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on the issue. “Rajnath called the CM and said things had reached a breaking point. He wanted to bring things under control before the PM returned to the country,” a source said.

Sources in the Valley said that BJP leader and J&K deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh had Thursday conveyed to the CM that Geelani should not be allowed to organise another rally in south Kashmir and that strict action should be taken against separatists who allegedly waved Pakistani flags at the rally, held to mark Geelani’s return from Delhi.

Sources said that after seeking a nod from the CM, police arrested Alam and are now looking for other leaders against whom cases were registered.

Soon after the arrest, a government spokesperson said Alam had been arrested “for seditious activities”.

“On Geelani’s return from Delhi on Wednesday, provocative and seditious slogans were raised by the supporters of the group, led by Masarat Alam,” the spokesperson said, adding that Alam had allegedly instigated the crowd by hoisting the Pakistani flag and shouting pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans. An FIR was lodged against Alam and others under various sections of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and other penal laws.

The spokesperson said that during police investigation, video footage of the incident was examined and Alam was allegedly seen egging the crowd on to raise anti-national slogans and hoist Pakistani flags.

Welcoming Alam’s arrest, BJP legislator Sofi Yosuf said it was pressure from the BJP and other parties that led to police action. “The law is the same for everybody and the government has shown that they will not be lenient to those who wave Pakistani flags or are involved in anti-national activities,” he said.

Incidentally, the PDP, when it was in the opposition, had slammed the former NC-Congress government for not giving space to separatist leaders and arresting them over minor issues.

On Friday, PDP spokesperson Waheed Para told The Indian Express that after examining videos of the rally, police registered a case against Alam and other separatist leaders. “It is a cognizable offence. The separatist leaders not only raised pro-Pakistan slogans, but also pro-Lashkar ones. Alam is pursuing a radical agenda that is far from the ideology of bringing a peaceful solution to problems in Kashmir. The separatist leadership is indulging in negative politics,” Para said.

Para denied that coalition partner BJP had put pressure on Sayeed to arrest Alam. “The law can never be selective for people. Whoever violates the law of the land has to face action,’’ he said.

BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said Wednesday’s rally was a “reaction to the BJP government’s attempts to rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits and protect refugees from West Pakistan”.

Meanwhile, authorities imposed restrictions and sealed roads leading to Tral to prevent protests against the killing of Khalid Muzaffar. His family as well as locals allege he was killed in Army custody. As protests broke out in Tral and some parts of the old city, police used lathi charge and teargas to disperse the mob. Hurriyat moderate chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq led the protests outside the city’s Jamia Masjid. — With ENS Delhi

 

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