New Delhi, March 12: Central Government Thursday directed Jammu and Kashmir to challenge bail granted to separatist Masarat Alam Bhat, whose release from prison last week has ignited a political row. An advisory from the home ministry also asks the state government to keep close surveillance on the hardliner and his associates.
“All 27 cases against Alam should be rigorously pursued and the government should take steps to challenge bail to him in those cases,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament, where opposition parties have attacked his government on the separatist’s release.
He added that the state must ensure surveillance on Alam “in close tandem with the Centre.”
The advisory follows days of political sparring over the release of Masarat Alam, the man behind stone-throwing protests across the Kashmir Valley in 2010.
Alam had been granted bail in all 27 cases against him but had been kept in jail under the Public Safety Act, which allows detention for up to two years without trial.
The Jammu and Kashmir government, led by Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has already informed the Centre that there were no fresh grounds to keep Alam in jail.
The Indian Home Minister said that, â€œI had made a Statement based on the report received from the Government of Jammu & Kashmir on 9th March, 2015 regarding the release of separatist Masarat Alam Bhat I had also mentioned that more information in this regard is being collected from the State Government. We have received a further report from the State Government in the matter.
The State Government has informed that 27 criminal cases are continuing against Masarat Alan Bhat. Masarat Alam Bhat has been booked 8 times, since February, 2010 under Section 8 of the Jammu & Kashmir Public Safety Act of 1978. The last such detention order was issued by the District Magistrate, Jammu on 15.09.2014. Such detention order issued by the District Magistrate, Jammu is to be approved by the State Government within 12 days of the issuance of such detention order as per Section 8(4) of the Public Safety Act.. The detention order issued by the District Magistrate, Jammu on 15.09.2014 was received in the Home Department of Jammu & Kashmir on 09.10.2014 after the lapse of 23 days and hence the same could not be approved.
The State Government has further informed that there were no fresh grounds for detention as verified from the District Magistrate, Jammu. The grounds based on which earlier detention orders were, quashed by the Honâ€™ble High Court and this detention order contained the same old grounds of detention.
The Honâ€™ble Supreme Court of India had also, in March 2013, observed that if any fresh detention order is issued by the Government of Jammu & Kashmir with respect to Masarat Alan Bhat, the same shall not come into force for a period of one week from the date of communication of the order to enable him to pursue appropriate legal remedy.
After some correspondence with the District Magistrate, Jamrnu and State Law Department, the State Government wrote to the District Magistrate, Jammu on 04.02.2015 vide their letter No. Home/PD/01/2014 dated 4.2.2015 informing that the detention order dated 15.09.2014 issued by him ceased to remain in force The District Magistrate, Jammu was further informed that a fresh order can, however, be issued for detention of the detainee after following the procedure prescribed in the Public Safety Act and directions of the Honâ€™bie Supreme Court.
Thereafter, the detenue was released on 07.03.2015.
The State Government has also informed that a proper system is in place to have an effective surveillance over Masarat Alam l3hatâ€™s activities. As and when anything adverse surfaces, appropriate action as envisaged by law will be taken. The intelligence apparatus and local police work in tandem thereby facilitating planning of advance and adequate deployment of law and order components for maintenance of peace and order in areas likely to be visited by Masarat Alam Bhat and other separatist elements.