Even as allies BJP and PDP sparred over his release, hardline separatist leader Masarat Alam claimed on Sunday that the government had not done him “any favour” and his release was part of the “normal legal process”.
“I had been granted bail by the courts and they (government) had exhausted all their options,” Alam told The Indian Express. “I have not been done any favour by the government… Now they want to politicise it and score some points. Otherwise, it was a normal legal process,” he said.
The separatist leader, who was released after four-and-a-half years of detention, said he would continue to work for the “freedom” of Kashmir as a “humble worker”. “My principled stand is that Jammu and Kashmir is under occupation and that it should end,” he said. “There should be complete withdrawal of Indian armed forces”.
On the BJP coming to power in the state, Alam said: “To be honest, we never see it like that. We don’t see the BJP, Congress, National Conference or PDP in different ways. For us, all of then want to strengthen the Indian occupation. All of them want to persuade people to surrender… But we have apprehensions of attempts to change the demography of this state.”
Referring to the 2008 Amarnath land row agitation, Alam said: “They tried this (demographic change) in 2008, though there was a different government (PDP-Congress) then. People gave sacrifices and didn’t allow that… If it is tried again, we will not allow them to do”.
Asked if he would support talks between the Centre and separatists — one of the issues in the PDP-BJP’s common minimum programme, Alam said this decision could only be taken by the Hurriyat. “If there is an offer for talks, it would be discussed in the forum led by Geelani sahib,” he said. “It would be decided there whether we should participate or not, but the decision would be based on our principled stand,” he added.
Alam said he was “not disappointed with the people” for rejected the boycott call and voting in the state elections. “They are all with the movement. We need to analyse why it happened and chalk out our strategy. We need to have a comprehensive strategy — on the international level, local level and people level… We need to connect more with the people. One of the reasons that we could not communicate with them was because the leadership was behind bars,” he said.
Calling for separatist groups to come together, he said, “It is the right time for unity, but it has to be based on principles… it should not be just to get the people together.”