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Hurriyat hardliner Masarat Alam’s release rocks House: PM Modi makes his anger known

Alam, who had organised anti-India protests in the Valley in 2010, was freed from Baramulla jail on Saturday evening.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: March 10, 2015 1:35:00 pm
Masarat alam, Hurriyat leader masarat, Masarat Alam release, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, J&K CM, J&K Chief Minister, J&K CM Mufti, PDP-BJP alliance, PDP-BJP govt, J&K govt, J&K news, india news, national news, Jammu and Kashmir news Masarat Alam at his residence in Srinagar on Monday. (Source: Reuters)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened in a discussion on the release of Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam to inform Lok Sabha on Monday that he shared the “outrage” of its members, and that the government would take every step necessary to secure the unity and integrity of the country.

Watch video of the PM speaking in Lok Sabha

Modi, who said that the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government in Jammu & Kashmir had not consulted the Centre before releasing the separatist leader, spoke after Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the House that Alam faced 27 criminal cases, and that the central government was not “fully satisfied” with the J&K report on him.

The entire opposition, led by the Congress, rejected the PM’s and home minister’s statements, and walked out of the House in protest.

Alam, who organised the violent anti-India protests in the Valley in 2010, was released from a Baramulla prison on Saturday evening, two days after Chief Minister Sayeed ordered political prisoners freed. Alam later told The Indian Express that the government had done him no favours, and that he had walked free as part of normal legal process after the courts gave him bail and the government ran out of options.

“I share the sense of outrage which prevails in this House and the country,” Modi said. “I assure the country and the House that (on) whatever is happening there (in Jammu & Kashmir), the union government was neither consulted nor informed.”

He added, “The government does not accept such actions… Any compromise over the unity and integrity of the country is not acceptable to us.” Steps, the PM said, would be “taken within the parameters of the Constitution”.

As opposition members questioned the BJP “silence” on the matter even though it shared power with the PDP in the state, Modi said, “There is no reason for us to keep quiet… On such issues, we are people who have sacrificed Syama Prasad Mookerjee for our ideals… Therefore, please don’t teach us patriotism.”

“The central government”, Modi said, “has sought clarifications on certain matters (from the Sayeed government)”. He promised to apprise the House of the state’s response once it was received. “In one voice, we express our anger against those supporting separatists and misusing the law… In the coming days, we will take whatever action is required, and we are committed to the protection of the nation’s unity and integrity,” the PM said.

Earlier, Rajnath informed the members that according to a state home department report, Alam faced 27 criminal cases, including attempt to murder and sedition. He had been held eight times, and was detained under the Public Safety Act in February 2010.

“We are not fully satisfied with the state home department report,” he said. “We have taken the entire issue very seriously… The Centre will issue the strongest advisory, if needed, to the state after the clarifications are received.”

The statements by Modi and Rajnath, however, failed to pacify the opposition. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge led the walkout, which was joined by, besides the Congress, members of the Trinamool Congress, Left, NCP, Samajwadi Party and Aam Adami Party.

P Venugopal, leader of the AIADMK group, which is generally well disposed towards the ruling BJP, threw in his lot with the opposition, asking the BJP to dump the PDP in J&K.

“The BJP should come out of the alliance and conduct fresh elections,” Venugopal said. Earlier, Kharge, Kalyan Banerjee (TMC) and N K Premachandran (RSP) too asked the BJP to break off ties with the PDP if it was indeed opposed to key decisions of the Sayeed government.

In Rajya Sabha, which too witnessed noisy scenes over the release of Alam, Rajnath conceded that the BJP had “ideological differences” with the PDP, but insisted there was no “hidden agenda” behind the alliance. He said no compromise with national security would be tolerated.

The opposition accused the BJP of disowning responsibility for decisions taken by a government of which it was part. Sharad Yadav of the JD(U) demanded to know if the BJP’s understanding with the PDP was in the national interest, and P Rajeeve of the CPI(M) said the BJP’s “political opportunism” had led it to “compromise with national security”. D Raja of the CPI said BJP could not “wash its hands of” the state government’s decision.

K C Tyagi of the JD(U) asked the BJP to reveal its “hidden agenda”. “Mufti (Mohammad Sayeed) is very clear on what he wants to do… He is for greater Kashmir… he has thanked Pakistan for successful elections (in J&K)… he is very clear. The BJP must also come clean,” Tyagi said.

While the debate was wrapped up after Rajnath spoke, opposition members continued to complain for some time that the PM had ignored Rajya Sabha while choosing to speak in Lok Sabha. Members of the Congress and other opposition parties entered the well, saying Rajya Sabha had been “insulted”.

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