Srinagar: A court in Budgam Wednesday reserved order on the bail plea of senior Hurriyat Conference leader Masarat Alam till Saturday.
Alam was arrested by Police on Friday, two days after a rally organized by Hurriyat Conference (G) to welcome its chairman Syed Ali Geelani on his return from New Delhi.
Following a vicious campaign launched by Indian news channels, which demanded arrest of Alam and others, coupled with a harsh stance by the government of India, the police had booked Alam and six others leaders including Geelani under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, RPC sections of 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 147 (rioting), 341 (causing injury), 336 (attacking government employee), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50 or more).
Later police inserted two more RPC sections under 121(waging war against country), 124A (sedition).
In support of arguments for bail, counsel representing Alam, advocates Shabir Ahmad Bhat, Javed Hubbi, Bilal Ahmad Wani and Mohammad Shafi, contented that these two sections have been inserted by prosecution without state’s permission, a pre-requisite for the same.
“As procedure was not followed by police, it is clear that they included the sedition charges under media pressure and subsequent political pressure,” the advocates said.
They also contended that raising pro-Pakistan slogans or flags was no offence in the state which has been reiterated by J&K high court in a case in 1983.
“Raising flag of any other country is not an offence and raising mere slogans cannot be a heinous crime unless supported by action,” they said.
They also recalled an episode in 1999 when senior lawyer and BJP leader Ram Jethmalani raised pro-Pakistan slogans on Wagah border in a peace march.
“When India and Pakistan was at the verge of war in 1999, Jethmalani held a peace march on wagah border and raised pro-Pakistan slogans on the soil of India. Why he was not booked,” they said.
They said if praising Pakistan was an offence, then PDP patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed should also be booked minutes after he took oath as chief minister of the state. Alam, they said, is victim of the media trial. “We hope the law will prevail and Alam will be granted the bail which is his right,” the counsel added.
However, state through Chief Prosecuting Officer (CPO) M Saleem opposed the bail application, contending that Alam’s offences were “heinous” and non-bailable in nature.
The CPO said that offences including 121 RPC (waging war against India) carry a punishment of death or imprisonment for life and as such he should not be enlarged on bail. The CPO said that the activities of Alam are against the sovereignty of India.
He said the investigation of the case was in progress and custodial investigation of the accused was required for further investigation. “If the accused is released on bail, the process of investigation will get frustrated,” he said.
After hearing both the parties, the CJM reserved the final orders to be announced Saturday (April 25).
Apart from Alam and Geelani, these charges have also been slapped on Peer Saifullah, Raja Mehraj-ud-din Kalwal, Javed Ahmad Najar and Zahoor Ahmed Kanna and amalgam’s spokesman Ayaz Akbar.