Masarat in police custody, valley under protest

RSTV Bureau

Kashmir_protestjpgHardline separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat has been sent to the police custody for 7 days. He will be lodged in a high security lock-up in Budgam where he is likely to be questioned by Jammu and Kashmir police.

Masarat was arrested on Friday, two days after he led a rally on the outskirts of Srinagar where Pakistan national flag was waved. Alam had also chanted pro-Pakistan slogans in the rally. It was organised to host a prominent hardline separatist leader and Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani who was just released from a house arrest after December 2013.

Geelani is now again put under the house arrest after PDP-BJP government took a “stringent” stand on the separatist’s rally that generated immense controversy.

Masarat Alam is charged with criminal conspiracy, rioting, causing injury, attacking government employee and causing public mischief along with section 13 of UAPA. Late on Friday evening he was produced before a Judicial Magistrate where the J&K police took a ‘stern’ line to ask for his remand. The police submitted before the court that Masarat needs to be questioned over his speech and incident of Pakistan national flag waved by the crowd in his presence.

The court sent Masarat Alam to police custody till 23rd April.

Following his arrest and re-ordering of Geelani’s house arrest, tension has broken out in the parts of valley. Tral, Hyderpora and Narbal witnessed protests on Friday afternoon. The situation is particularly tense in Narbal where the protestors have allegedly pelted stones on security personnel.

Reportedly one person has suffered serious injuries after the forces allegedly opened fire at the protesters.

The Jammu and Kashmir government proceeded with the arrests of the two as the alliance partner BJP took a hardened stand with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh calling up Chief Minister Mufti on Thursday to act tough, even as BJP workers staged a protest in Jammu region against their own government. The government was also jittery of Geelani’s another proposed rally in Tral region of Pulwama district to hold a protest against the killing of a teenager by the security forces. While the residents allege a fake encounter, army claimed the youth was a militant killed after a gun battle ensued.

Protest was also reported from the area of Nowhatta on the outskirts of Srinagar where masked protestors clashed with police. More than 10 protestors and 2 policemen are reported to be injured.

Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq accused the army of killing youths after labelling them terrorists. “There is no arrest, no FIR. The government has to put an end to state terrorism,” he said.

The whole incident and the protest that erupted following the rally has put Mufti government under the opposition’s questions too.

“No less than Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh must explain to the nation what is going on in Jammu and Kashmir,” Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader Nawang Rigzin Jora told reporters here today.

“It is time BJP comes clean on its Jammu and Kashmir policy and let the nation know where it stands“ Jora said blaming the coalition government for the current chaos.

The seemingly testing alliance between the BJP and PDP has already experienced some strains over the issue of Masarat Alam’s release in March this year.

Alam, a 44 years old hardliner gained prominence in Kashmir’s separatist politics after he organised a massive stone-throwing protest in 2010 in the valley. He was in jail since 2010, till the PDP-BJP government decided to set him free on 1st March 2015.