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Friday, December 30, 2016

Massarat Alam released, re-arrested in another case

PDP-BJP coalition under fire for booking Alam on faulty grounds, “lackadaisical pursuance” of his case in High Court

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, Dec 29: Icon of the over four-month-long street turbulence of the year 2010 in Kashmir valley and a senior leader of the separatist group Muslim League, Massarat Alam Bhat, whose release in 2015 by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government had triggered off a major controversy at national level in the country, was released from a jail in Kathua on Thursday but re-arrested quickly in a different case registered against him in the Valley.

Official sources said that Bhat was released from a jail in Kathua two days after Mr Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar of the Jammu and High Court quashed his detention under the preventive law Public Safety Act (PSA) and ordered his release.

Sources said that Bhat was subsequently taken into custody and whisked away to a temporary detention centre of counterinsurgency wing of J&K Police (CIJ)in Miran sahib area of Ranbir Singhpura, Jammu. He was likely to be handed over to Kashmir Police who have reportedly sought his detention in a criminal matter.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani told STATE TIMES that Bhat was arrested in a different case. “We have arrested him in a different case. There are several cases registered against him in which he is wanted in Kashmir”, IGP Kashmir asserted.

After over five years of continued detention, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s PDP-BJP Government had released Bhat within days of assuming office in March 2015. He was, however, re-arrested and detained under PSA when his release triggered off a political controversy and immediately thereafter he organised a massive pro-Pakistan and anti-India demonstration in reception of the separatist hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani outside the office of the Director General of Police on Srinagar Airport Road. "Haafiz Sayeed ka kya paigaam: Kashmir banega Pakistan" was Alam's lead slogan in the rally that waved a profusion of the Pakistani flags and set the tone for a new upheaval in the Valley.

As the courts quashed all of his PSA detentions and some orders expired, in the currently year Bhat was again detained under PSA on the charge that some separatist activists had deceitfully met him inside a jail in Baramulla in the month of August and received from him directions to strengthen the then blooming Burhan Wani turbulence across the Valley. His counsels challenged the detention in J&K High Court.

In the High Court junior Government advocates pursued and defended Bhat’s detention. On the other hand, senior advocate Mian Abdul Qayoom argued strongly against the detention and the State government lost its case on Tuesday when Justice Attar announced the judgment that had been reserved in the previous week. He ordered Bhat’s release “forthwith”.

Agreeing with the defence counsel, Justice Attar observed that the grounds of detention mentioned by the detaining authority (District Magistrate of Baramulla) were invalid and not sufficient to warrant preventive detention of any citizen. He observed that if four visitors had met Massarat Alam inside his Barrack No:8 in Sub Jail Baramulla instead of the detainee of Barack No: 7, Assadullah Parray of Hajan, who they had mentioned in the entry, Bhat could not be held responsible for meeting them.

“The allegation in the FIR and statements of all these Police personnel would, prima facie, show that all the Police authorities, posted at Sub Jail Baramulla, have failed to discharge their duties in accordance with law because it was within the competence and authority of these Police personnel to ensure that the visitors would meet only Shri Assadullah Parray, for meeting with whom they had sought permission and not the detenue (Bhat). The record does not show whether those persons have been arraigned as accused in FIR No: 258/2016 dated 3oth August, 2016. No material is placed on record to suggest that all those persons, after allegedly meeting the detenue, did actually indulge in such activities, which would either adversely impact security of the State or the public order. The record further does not show that what actually transpired between the detenue and those four persons in the alleged meeting they had with each other in the jail premises”, Justice Attar observed.

“The democratic societies not only swear but live by democratic values and principles. Even in the face of extreme provocations, the laws of the land are to be implemented. Laws possess unique quality, in as much as, they, even at times, protect those who break them. Thus they prove better than many human beings”, Justice Attar noted in his order, illustrating difference between a criminal detention and a preventive custody. He asserted that liberty of every citizen had been guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.


[Published in today's STATE TIMES]

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