Not Consulted , Don’t Approve Decision to Release Hurriyat Hardliner Masarat Alam, Says BJP
JAMMU/SRINAGAR: The BJP was neither consulted and nor had consented to the release of hardline separatist leader Masarat Alam by the government, the party said today. The party has registered a protest with Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on the issue.
Alam – accused of fanning trouble in 2010 in which over 100 people died in Kashmir — was released from jail on Saturday by the week-old People’s Democratic Party-led government. Left red-faced by the decision, the lawmakers of coalition partner had been holding protests in Jammu.
“This step does not have consent of BJP. Nor was BJP consulted before such a decision was taken,” news agency Press Trust of India quoted state BJP chief Jugal Kishore Sharma as saying. “If they (the PDP) had asked us, we would not have given our approval.”
The legislators, he reportedly said, will meet to discuss the party’s stand over the “unilateral” step.
Alam was released according to the new government’s policy of freeing political prisoners who do not face criminal charges. Mr Sharma, however, said the issue does not figure in the Common Minimum Programme, the guidelines for the coalition government.
Playing down the criticism, PDP spokesman Naeem Akhtar said, “This (the release of Alam) has to be seen in proper perspective. It is an important part of our Common Minimum Programme to involve all stakeholders in the state, and across the Line of Control, for reconciliation and peace in the state.”
“If you want to have a dialogue with all stakeholders… you cannot engage them by keeping them in jail without anything substantial against them,” he added.
This is the third instance since March 1 — when the lawmakers took oath — in which the BJP have been left in an embarrassing position by its ally. Last Sunday, within an hour of taking oath, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had thanked Pakistan and the militants for allowing the elections to take place without any major incident.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union home minister Rajnath Singh clarified the matter following vociferous protests by the opposition, a group of PDP lawmakers issued a statement demanding the return of the remains of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who was executed in 2013.