The Union home ministry has told the Jammu and Kashmir government to book separatist Masarat Alam at the first possible provocation, amidst an increasing attack from the Opposition after it emerged that the anti-India campaigner's release could have been thwarted.
Minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament on Thursday that the Centre's advisory to the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government — where the Centre-ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is a partner — requires the state to keep Alam and his associates under tight vigil so that they can be booked under the J&K public safety law if anything adverse comes to notice.
Alam has been accused of playing a key role in the 2010 unrest in the region that left over 150 dead and his release has raised concerns for peace in Jammu and Kashmir which often sees violent anti-government protests.
The Union government had the opportunity to detain Alam, but didn't and the home minister did not offer any explanation for it in his Thursday statement.
He did, however, hint that the state police may have run out of charges to slap on the Hurriyat leader when Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia pressed for a reason.
Last September's detention order contained "the same old grounds of detention" that had been quashed by the high court earlier, Singh said, quoting the state government's report on the matter. The J-K government told the Centre that the Jammu DM had confirmed that "there were no fresh grounds for (Alam's) detention", he said.
The Centre has also told the state to challenge the bail orders in the 27 criminal cases against Alam, the home minister said.
According to government sources, the J-K government has agreed to take steps in line with the advisory.
Policemen will be deployed in adequate numbers in areas to be visited by Alam and other separatist leaders for maintaining peace, Singh said.