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Masarat Alam release row rocks House, Oppn up in arms

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Lok Sabha on Monday that the Centre was not happy with the clarification given by the Jammu and Kashmir government over the release of Kashmiri separatist Masarat Alam.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2015 15:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Masarat Alam release,separatist leader Masarat Alam,Mufti Sayeed

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told Lok Sabha that the Centre was not consulted by the Jammu and Kashmir government on the decision to release Kashmiri separatist leader Masarat Alam.

Alam, 42, was released after close to five years in detention as part of a state government's initiative to release political prisoners facing no criminal charges.

The Congress and other opposition parties had triggered a ruckus in both Houses of Parliament, demanding the Prime Minister's explanation on Alam's release. Both Houses saw brief adjournments amid Opposition ruckus over the issue.

"I am in sync with the outrage which is being expressed in Parliament as well as the nation," Modi told the House.

"We have asked for a clarification on the Masarat Alam issue and when it comes we will inform you," Modi said.

"We will not tolerate any step which undermines unity of the country," he said.

As angry exchanges between both sides continued, Modi told the opposition: "Do not teach us patriotism."

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge retorted to Modi's reply, saying if the PM is unaware about what is happening in J-K then his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) should leave the alliance with Peoples Democratic Party.

"If you (BJP) want the country to be unified, then withdraw (support) from the (J-K) government," said Kharge.

Earlier, Union home minister Rajnath Singh told the House that the Centre sought a report from the state's home ministry about Alam's release. He said J-K has sent a clarification and the Centre will ensure that a strong advisory is sent out to the state government if it is not satisfactory.

"Public safety and security will not be compromised by this government," Singh told the House.

"We are in politics not to form governments but to build the nation."

There were 27 criminal cases, including murder, sedition and conspiracy pending against Alam and he has been detained eight times, he said.

Singh told the House that the court granted bail to Alam in all the 27 criminal cases against him.

"The high court says that we cannot detain anyone for more than two years on one ground. We need fresh charges."

The opposition was up in arms even after parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu assured them that the home minister would make a statement in Lok Sabha amid slogans of "PM jawaab do (PM, we want answer)".

Naidu too had said that the Centre was never consulted on Alam's release by the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government in J-K.

Kharge had earlier alleged the PDP-BJP coalition government in the militancy-hit state might have released the Hurriyat hardliner after consulting the Prime Minister.

"We gave adjournment motion on Masarat Alam. Let's see what happens," Kharge said earlier in the day.

Opposition members in both Houses resorted to slogan shouting after the Congress move for the adjournment motion was turned down by the chair.

The Centre had asked the J-K government on Sunday to explain Alam's release. The state BJP condemned the release, on chief minister and PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's orders, and said it would rather sacrifice the government — its first in the border state — than be part of such an 'insult' to the nation.

This crisis comes even as the BJP continues its firefight against Mufti's remarks crediting Pakistan and the separatists for peaceful conduct of assembly elections in the state, and is being viewed as a decision that has driven another wedge between troubled alliance partners BJP and PDP.

(With ANI inputs)

Video: PM speaks on Alam's release

First Published: Mar 09, 2015 12:56 IST