No more separatist leaders to be freed: J-K govt

Jammu/New Delhi: The Jammu and Kashmir government will not free any more political prisoners or separatist leaders, it stated today after release of hardline separatist Masarat Alam created huge strains in the PDP-BJP coalition and uproar in Parliament.

Jammu and Chief Minister Mohammad Sayeed  Photo : AFP
Jammu and Chief Minister Mohammad Sayeed
Photo : AFP
“There is no such thing”, the State Home Secretary Suresh Kumar said on being asked whether government will continue with the release of more militants and political prisoners.

“No Public Safety Act could be re-framed against Masarat Alam, that is why he was released. Rest there is nothing more (releases)”, Kumar said in Jammu.

Defending the decision to release Alam, the Home Secretary said, “There is limit of detaining some one under PSA. You can have maximum six months and one time more”.

“As per the Supreme Court Judgement you cannot detain anyone again and again on the same charge. If you have done that there should be fresh charges against him”, he said.

Amidst the raging controversy, Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh today met BJP chief Amit Shah in Delhi and apprised him of the situation in the state in the wake of the controversy over Alam’s release

According to sources, Singh met Shah at his residence and informed him of the state BJP’s stand on the controversial issue and the memorandum it handed over to Sayeed.

Pushed on the backfoot over Alam’s release, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today asserted that his government’s top priority is national security and not the continuance of government in the state where BJP is an alliance partner with PDP.

His remarks came on a day Opposition parties in Parliament upped the ante against the Government over reports that the Jammu and Kashmir government was planning to release 800 more separatists and sought to know if the state’s Governor has mentioned this in his report to the Centre.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made it clear in Parliament on Monday that release of Alam was not acceptable and that the government won’t tolerate any compromise with the nation’s integrity.

Putting the Government on the mat, Opposition wondered whether BJP has a “secret pact” with PDP on the issue and demanded re-arrest of Alam against whom there are 27 criminal cases, including murder, sedition and conspiracy. He was detained eight times.

The Home Minister said, “My government will not compromise with national security at any cost. For us any government, whether in alliance or not, that is not our priority. Our priority is country and its security. You should understand this intention of ours.”

The Home Minister said, “I will only make only one statement as of now, as I had said in Parliament yesterday. For us, government is not the priority but for us country is priority and it is topmost,” he said in Ghaziabad.

In Jammu, PDP said the Jammu and Kashmir government will abide by the court directives on the release of political prisoners.

“Whatever the Supreme Court and courts tell us, we are going to abide by that (on release of political prisoners in future),’ senior PDP leader and Minister for Sports, Imran Raza Ansari told reporters.

The Home Minister said he was not satisfied with the official version that the state government sent to his Ministry earlier on this subject.

He also dismissed reports that J-K Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had talked to him on the subject.

Members in both Lok Sabha and Rajya have expressed “outrage” over the release of the separatist leader, calling the development as “anti-national” and dangerous to the country’s integrity. They have also dared BJP to pull out of the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led government on the issue.

In the Rajya Sabha, Opposition parties sought Government’s clarification on reports that the J-K government was planning to release 800 more jailed separatists.

After Naresh Agarwal (SP) and others raised the issue, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said government was ready to respond to any specific case brought to its notice.

Rajeev Shukla (Cong) also sought to know if the orders for Alam’s release were signed by the Governor and if they were issued when the state was under President’s rule.

The issue also cropped up in Lok Sabha where a demand was made for dismissal of Mufti government and a ban on PDP in the wake of its “anti national” act of releasing Alam.

Asked how Alam was released when so many cases were pending against him, the state Home Secretary said, “This guy is under preventive detention since beginning of 2010. How long he can be continued under PSA? you have abide by the rule of the country.”

“Now media is making a buzz about it. Whom to explain what”, he said.

Sources said during Nirmal Singh’s meeting with Shah, the Deputy CM told the party chief about the strong objections raised by him and other state leaders over Alam’s release, which was done unilaterally without discussion with BJP.

BJP is in an alliance with PDP in sharing power in the state after the state threw a fractured verdict in the results of assembly polls declared in December.

Other senior party leaders from the state including party president Jugal Kishore Sharma also met Shah.

The party leaders in the state had yesterday protested against Sayeed’s decision to release Alam without consulting BJP and handed over a memorandum to him, while conveying the party leadership’s “annoyance” to him over the matter.

BJP has said that there should be no further release of militants or political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir without proper consultations between the two allies.