Case Registered Against Separatist Masarat Alam After Pakistani Flag is Raised at His Rally

Pakistani flags were raised at Masarat Alam's rally

Srinagar:

Supporters of separatist Masarat Alam, who was controversially released from prison recently, waved Pakistani flags and raised pro-Pakistan slogans at a rally in Srinagar today. The BJP has demanded immediate action and asked why the rally was allowed.

The rally was organised by Masarat Alam to welcome Hurriyat Conference hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani back to the Valley after several months in Delhi. As hundreds of Mr Alam's supporters marched through the city and right in front of the office of the state's Director General of Police, several of them waved Pakistan flags. 

Following the incident, the Jammu and Kashmir Police registered a case under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against Mr Alam, Mr Geelani and other separatist leaders present at the rally.

Masarat Alam, 44, is allegedly the main organiser of the massive protests in 2010 that saw Kashmiris clashing for months with Indian soldiers and police officers. More than 100 people were killed in the violence. He was released controversially from Baramulla jail in March, days after the People's Democratic Party or PDP's Mufti Mohammad Sayeed took over as chief minister at the head of a government in which the BJP partners.

"It is highly objectionable and condemnable. The slogans which were raised were pro Pakistan and Pakistan flags, it is unacceptable. Mufti should take cognizance of it so that message clearly goes out to Pakistan supporters that it will not be accepted," said the BJP's GVL Narasimha Rao today.

There is expected to be renewed criticism of the decision to release Masarat Alam from jail. When he was released Opposition parties attacked the BJP-led central government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in the Lok Sabha, "I also lend my voice to the outrage on the release of the separatist... this is not one party's outrage, it is the nation's outrage."

The PDP is yet to react.

The latest controversy will also exacerbate an already tense relationship between partners PDP and BJP, who are ideological opposites and have come together to give Jammu and KAshmir a government on the basis of a common minimum programme.

Cracks have showed from day 1, when the Mufti had thanked "people from across the border" - seen as a reference to Pakistan - and militants for allowing smooth elections in the state, hours after he was sworn in.