This became evident when the government slapped on him the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA), a law which local and international human rights organisations have repeatedly said has been misused to arrest political dissenters and keep them in jail over extended periods.
Under the PSA, a person can be detained without a trial for up to two years. The state has invoked this law against Masrat 26 times since the anti-India uprising began in 1990, and each time courts have bailed him out.
The government’s desperation to keep Masrat behind the bars showed up when it slapped the PSA on him without waiting till Saturday, when a court was to announce its verdict on his bail application.
Another sign of desperation was that the government had already booked him under “sedition and waging war against India” charges, which carry death and life imprisonment. In addition, he had been booked for “Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, criminal conspiracy, rioting, causing injury, attacking government employee and mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50 or more”.
Budgam deputy commissioner, who signed the PSA dossier against Masrat, said that he has been booked under PSA on charges of “sedition, carrying anti-national activities, provocation against the state besides some other offences”.
“Police prepared the dossier and I signed it yesterday. He can challenge the charges in court of law. We have given him a copy of PSA order,” Mir said.
Alam, who apparently is being dubbed as a successor to octogenarian Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani was released after 53-month-long captivity on March 7. Soon, Indian media channels launched a vicious campaign against his release. The BJP dissociated itself from the decision to release him. Rather, it pulled up its alliance partner PDP, saying the party was not taken into confidence while deciding on his release.
Alam, a resident of Zaindar Mohalla Habba Kadal in old Srinagar, was arrested on Friday, two days after news channels showed him shouting pro-Pakistan slogans in a rally organised to welcome Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geealani on his arrival from New Delhi.
The charges of “sedition” and “waging war against India” had been added to the FIR while he was in detention, apparently under pressure from New Delhi and the Indian news channels.
Alam had challenged his detention and a court reserved order on his bail till Saturday. His lawyers, who expected Alam would have got bail on Saturday, had argued that raising pro-Pakistan slogans or flags was no offence in the state. They had cited an old case of JK high court in 1983 in support of their argument.
The fresh PSA comes at a time when Mufti and his party have come under severe criticism for backtracking on his “battle of ideas”. In opposition, he and his party have been criticising the National Conference for arresting resistance leaders under PSA. He had promised that he would release these leaders once in power.