Masrat Alam freed

Masrat Alam freed

Director general of police says government’s directions on release of prisoners will be followed

Wasim Khalid
Srinagar: Senior Hurriyat Conference leader and chairman of Muslim League Masrat Alam Bhat, known as the architect of 2008 and 2010 anti-India uprisings, was released after 53-month-long captivity on Saturday.
“We have received orders from the government three days ago to release Masrat,” a senior police official told Kashmir Reader.
“The government has withdrawn a case under which he was arrested. There were some technical and legal glitches which too have been cleared,” he said.
The officer said the decision to release Masrat was taken after following the policy of “goli say nahi, boli say” (Talks, not bullets).
To keep him inside jail, the government had slapped Public Safety Act on him six times since October 18, 2010. Under PSA, a person can be detained for up to two years without a trial. Masrat was arrested on October 8, 2010.
“The government did everything illegal to legally arrest him. Every time a court will quash PSA against him, the government would re-arrest him. He remained in Kathua and then was shifted to Kashmir,” a Muslim League official said.
Last year, Masrat was arrested within an hour of his release by a court which had quashed his PSA. And when all six PSAs had been quashed against him, the police had recommended another PSA against Masrat.
However, deputy commissioner Jammu was told a few days ago that he should not sanction PSA against Masrat.
Masrat, 42, hogged public and media attention for mobilizing pro-freedom protests during 2010 while in hiding. The police had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for information leading to his arrest. After evading the police for several months, he was arrested from a house in the outskirts of Srinagar.
This is the first politically significant move in the six-day old PDP-BJP coalition government. Immediately after taking oath, chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had thanked Pakistan, Hurriyat and militants for “allowing peaceful polls in the state” and eight MLAs from his party had resolved to work for bringing back Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s remains to Kashmir.
His release has come days after chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed told director general of police to initiate the process of releasing political prisoners who do not face any criminal charges so that a “positive message is sent across the political spectrum of the state”.
“The general directions from the government is that all political activists who have no terrorist background should be released,” PDP spokesman and education minister Naeem Akhtar said.
Asked the government has prepared a list of political prisoners and whether other detainees such as Mushtaq-ul-Islam would be released too, he said, “So far I had no individual information who would be released.”
Police reacts cautiously
Director general of police K Rajendra was very cautious while responding to the development. Interacting with the reporters in Jammu, he was asked whether the process of release of political prisoners had begun at the level of the police.
“Any direction coming from the government would be looked into and would be worked out,” he said.
Rajendra’s words, “would be looked into” and “would be worked out”, convey the police will have a say in release of prisoners.
However, the DGP was quick to issue the clarification. “Yes, all the directions issued by the government will be complied with. Let us be clear about that,” he said.
Asked whether police has formulated any plan for release of those who took part in 2008 and 2010 agitations, he said, “We will get back to you. We will come back with our views when we are ready with the blueprint.”
“At the moment, we will not be able to say much on that. Let us work on that then we will get back to you,” he said.

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