Srinagar: Muslim League chairman Masrat Alam said on Sunday that his release has nothing to do with any policy PDP-BJP coalition might have had on release of political prisoners because courts had released him much earlier but the government kept him chained by misusing the draconian Public Safety Act.
“Courts had quashed the PSA under which I was arrested several times. But the police would re-arrest me each time I would walk free on court orders. Legally, I was a free man but the government’s policy was to keep me behind the bars. So they would always bring in false charges against me,” Alam told Kashmir Reader at his Zaindar Mohalla residence here a day after his release after spending more than four years in jail.
“I can’t help it if the government publicises my release to draw political mileage out of it,” said the 45-year-old leader who was the most effective mobiliser of the mass anti-India uprising in 2010.
“I have been released from a small prison into a big prison…I have been arrested 10 times under PSA since 2008. Jail is like a second home to me,” he said, while terming the incarceration of hundreds of Kashmiri political prisoners as a “policy of revenge”.
Asked how he views the 2010 uprising, Bhat said a liberation struggle is a long process and such an uprising should be seen as a major milestone in that direction.
“The 2010 movement achieved its objectives. I can’t say there was no shortcoming in that movement, but we should know that we were able to rattle the huge Indian state equipped with men, money and resources. We internationalised the Kashmir dispute. And the major achievement was that the struggle was successfully passed on to the new generation,” Bhat said.
Did the 2010 uprising bring a sense of fatigue among the people, as some quarters believe? “I don’t think there is fatigue. The freedom struggle is a long path. Nations have taken decades to achieve that. We are also treading on the same path. People are hopeful and committed towards the cause,” he said.
When told that many pro-freedom leaders consider the high voter turnout in Assembly elections as a setback to their struggle, Bhat said, such an assessment “is not fair”.
“Kashmiris are connected with the resistance movement firmly. We would look into the reasons which forced the people to vote. We would assess why our strategy failed in that regard. You should also know that our leadership ran election boycott movement but they were either jailed or put under house arrest,” said Masrat.
Describing PDP, Congress, NC and BJP as two sides of the same coin, Masrat said, “The common motive of these parties has been to Indianise Kashmiris.”
Masrat, whose Muslim League is an important constituent of Hurriyat (G), said the resistance leadership will sit and hammer out a comprehensive resistance strategy.
He said his group is ready to forge unity with other pro-freedom parties, but only “on the basis of principles”.