Total Pageviews

Friday, March 13, 2015

Threatening a regional divide, Jammu courts shut over Massarat’s release

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


JAMMU, March 12: Mounting pressure on BJP---partner in Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s coalition government---for fresh detention of the Kashmiri separatist leader Massarat Alam Bhat, Bar Association of Jammu, now christened as Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, has called for suspension of work in the Jammu wing of High Court and all subordinate courts in Jammu district on Thursday.

The work in all the courts in Jammu would remain suspended against the Muslim League leader Massarat Alam’s release from detention by the Mufti Sayeed government, a spokesperson of the association said. He said that earlier this week, all courts had remained shut on March 9 against Alam’s release in Kathua, Hiranagar and Billawar.

Threatening yet another regional polarisation in Kashmir and Jammu provinces, BAJ’s strike is unprecedented since 2008 when lawyers in the two regions had sponsored street agitations on the diametrically opposite sentiments on a religious issue. However, the Kashmir association has not been proactive in defending the separatist leader’s release this time around. Observers feel it was bound to create “an equal and opposite reaction” in the legal practitioners’ fraternity in Srinagar.

After a meeting that decided to suspend work in all benches of the High Court and all subordinate courts, lawyers told Authint Mail that the BJP Ministers were “mute spectators” to the PDP Ministers’ “open favour to the separatist leader” and “spreading of lies” over Alam’s release.

“The PDP Ministers are publicly claiming that the Supreme Court has imposed ban on Alam’s fresh detention. The fact of the matter is that the Supreme Court has never banned any separatist leader’s preventive detention. It has only only put a rider that Alam’s fresh detention order should not be implemented for a period of one week and the accused should be given a chance to pursue appropriate legal remedy”, said a lawyers and member of the association.

Referring to the Supreme Court order of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Clelameswar dated March 22, 2013, another lawyer read out para 3 and 4 of the order which says: “Having regard to the above [J&K Government’s voluntary revocation of Masarat Alam Bhat’s PSA detention vide Govt Order No: Home-389/2013 dated March 18, 2013, who had been detained under Srinagar District Magistrate’s Order No: DMS/PSA/39/2012 dated October 30, 2012] nothing survives in the Writ Petition and it is disposed of accordingly. However, it is observed that if any fresh detention order is issued by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir with respect to Masrat Alam Bhat, 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”.

The lawyers claimed that Alam’s PSA detention ordered by District Magistrate of Jammu on September 15, 2014, was required by law to be confirmed by the State Home Department within 12 days. However, the file has intriguingly gone to Home after a month and it has been tossed between Home and Law departments during the election period and Governor’s rule.

“Mufti’s government should have regularised the lacuna on the existing grounds of DM Jammu and confirmed Alam’s detention rather than setting him free”, said another lawyer. He said that Mufti should have ordered an inquiry and initiated action against the officials of Home Department and DC Office Jammu who have “slept over the file possibly in league with the separatist leaders”.

Minister of Law and senior PDP leader Syed Basahrat Bukhari was not reachable for comment, though official sources said that a team from union Home Ministry was examining the whole case and it was “well possible” that some of the FIRs registered against Alam, in which different courts have granted bail, could be either precipitated for prosecution or assigned to a Central investigating agency.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ex-SSP Srinagar Bukhari disputes Massarat’s release, says politicians have destroyed Kashmir for vested interest

·        ‘Omar paid me reward of Rs 1.50 crore, Rs 25 Lakh for Massarat’s arrest alone but during elections called me killer of 112 youths’

·        Massarat demands Rs 50 Lakh compensation for ‘illegal detention’


Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


Jammu, March 10: Kashmir’s topmost counterinsurgency official Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, who functioned as Srinagar’s Senior Superintendent of Police in the year 2010 street turmoil and arrested the most wanted Massarat Alam Bhat to deflate the balloon of a meticulously organised separatist agitation, claimed on Tuesday that the Muslim League leader’s release would in no way subscribe to peace and normality in the strife-ravaged State.

In an exclusive conversation with Authint Mail, the retired Police official Bukhari described Massarat as a “stanch jihadist activist and die-hard supporter of Pakistan and LeT” who, in his opinion, would change others for secession but would never change to absorb himself in the Indian national mainstream. He said none other than Massarat sponsored and controlled the three-month-long mayhem in Srinagar and elsewhere and it was on account of his high profile that the Omar Abdullah government put a cash reward of Rs 10 Lakh on the underground activist’s head.

“It took us months of hardwork coupled with human and technical intelligence to get overselves on his track. Towards the end, we put his mother’s telephone on surveillance and traced him to a relative’s home in Hazratbal area. We caught him in a neat and clean operation. Chief Minister greeted me but asked on phone ‘Why didn’t you bump off this man? Why did you get him alive?’ Though there was only cash reward of Rs 10 Lakh on his head, which I received from the DGP, Omar Abdullah gave me extra of Rs 15 Lakh from his own pocket. He also granted out of turn promotion to seven personnel of my team”, Bukhari said.

Bukhari, who played a key role in restoring peace, though by controversial methods of arresting hundreds of youth and using strong arm tactics to quell the turbulence, under the leadership of IGP S.M. Sahai and DGP Kuldeep Khoda, revealed that Omar Abdullah’s government also paid him reward money of Rs 1.50 crore four times by cheque in recognition of his “outstanding work” and “restoring peace with minimum possible use of force and maximum possible regard for the human rights”. “Had we not used the best of our brains, hundreds would have died. They would have reduced the whole city to rubble”.

‘For vote, Omar finally called me killer’

Bukhari nonetheless believed that the State’s mainstream politicians had caused much more damage to Kashmir than Pakistan, jihadist guerrillas and other separatists. “Militants and separatists like Massarat Alam are not masquerading as the Indian nationalists. It’s actually our mainstream political leaders who have destroyed Kashmir and future of our three generations under the politics of camouflage”, Bukhari asserted. He claimed that the death of over a hundred “demonstrators and arsonists” in the Police and CRPF action was the consequence of “the provocation and exploitation of raw minds by the politicians of different hues”.

“None other than Omar Abdullah, who gave me the prize posting of SSP Srinagar in the most challenging situation and maximum rewards and accolades, finally demonised me as the killer of 112 youths. He knew it better than anyone else that the real killers were the men instigating the violence and provoking the attacks. Ours was not action. It was reaction. It stopped only when we arrested Massarat. But the same Omar Abdullah called me a killer during his election speeches in Beerwah, Sonwar, Bandipore and other places. He left no stone unturned to demonise me. If I was the killer, what was he?” Bukhari added.

“Omar’s uncle Mustafa Kamal calling me a killer would have been understandable. But how can the Chief Minister use you for restoring peace and dub you as a killer?” Bukhari said.

Interestingly, Bukhari was almost disowned even by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed a day after the duo addressed a public rally in Kupwara and Mufti introduced the retired officer as “senior leader of PDP”. Bukhari’s admission in PDP ruffled a many feathers in the part as scores of the youngsters threatened to quit if the man of high counterinsurgency background passed off as a PDP leader. He, however, denied having joined any party.

Mufti Govt may pay Rs 50 Lakh to Massarat

Meanwhile, official sources revealed to Authint Mail that after describing Massarat Alam’s detention as “illegal”, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government would find it hard to contest the Muslim League leader’s Rs 50 Lakh compensation claim pending in a habeus corpus petition before the J&K High Court.

Massarat has claimed the compensation after different benches of the High Court quashed his detention under Public Safety Act which had been slapped on him as many as 13 times during his 53-month-long imprisonment since October 18, 2010. His last detention, ordered by District Magistrate of Jammu on the dossier of SSP Jammu on September 15, 2014, did not sustain in Supreme Court as a result of lapses and carelessness in different departments and the DM’s failure to get his order approved under law by the State Home Department within the stipulated period of twelve days.

It became clear on Tuesday that the officials during Governor’s rule had slept over the DM’s order, apparently by carelessness, until the detention period almost expired, making the whole process illegal. In the famous petition Bhim Singh versus State of J&K, High Court had forced the government to pay compensation of Rs 50,000 towards the petitioner MLA whose attendance in Assembly had been blocked by Police with detention in late 1980s. Massarat’s petition is scheduled for hearing in Srinagar on April 7th.

“No, why should we pay him compensation, We will contest it”, Law Secretary Mohammad Ashraf Mir said. Advocate General Ishaq Qadri said that he had put in his papers after the Omar Abdullah government failed to get mandate. “Under a new order, Government has asked me to continue. But I have no brief from the new government on this subject”, Qadri said.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Togadia seeks Mufti’s apology, Massarat’s re-arrest
BJP’s J&K President, MLAs attend VHP rally with RSS, Bajrang Dal activists
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Jammu, March 8: Even as Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government on Sunday permitted Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s weeklong ‘Swaran Jayanti Samaroh’ [Golden Jubilee rallies] in Jammu and decided against arresting the Hindu right wing organization’s top leader, who is escaping arrest in case FIR No: 98/2012 filed against him in Rajouri, Praveen Togadia sought the Chief Minister’s apologies for releasing the prominent separatist functionary Massarat Alam Bhat.
VHP's International General Secretary Togadia inaugurated the weeklong celebrations with a rally of the Sangh Parivar activists at Dassehra Park in Gandhi Nagar area. Most of the speakers at the rally stressed that all those demonstrating love and loyalty for Pakistan should be caught and pushed across the International Border. They emphasized that there was “no space for such traitors in India”.
BJP’s State President and Member of Parliament Jugal Kishore Sharma, MLAs Kavinder Gupta, Sat Sharma and Rajesh Gupta besides scores of the leaders and hundreds of the VHP, Bajrang Dal and other Sangh Parivar constituent activists participated in the rally.
Launching a scathing attack on Mufti, Togadia said he must apologise to the people of the State and the nation for setting free the pro-Pakistan Muslim League leader Massarat Alam. He described Alam as the “killer” of 120 people who had died in different incidents of Police action and stone pelting, allegedly sponsored by Alam, in 2010.
"Mufti is acting against the people of the State, against employment and peace. He will destroy this State ," Togadia told reporters while seeking Alam’s re-arrest. He labelled Mufti as the “enemy of peace and prosperity of all the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir” and grumbled: "If he will not stop, people of India and the State will decide and force him to step down”.
The VHP firebrand, who is known for spreading communal hatred and whose Golden Jubilee celebrations were not permitted in February by the State governments of Odisha, Karnataka and Assam, alleged that Mufti was speaking the language of Pakistan. “He should respect the mandate of the people who voted for peace, development and creation of employment avenues for the youth of the state and rejected the separatists like Alam outright with massive participation in the recent Assembly elections.
"Those who give the slogans of Go India Go Back should be hanged," Togadia said with an obvious reference to Alam. He asserted that the nationalist people had love and respect for the Indian Army. He alleged that the PDP patron had brought “shame” to India and her people with his actions and statements. Taking exception to his expression of indebtedness and gratitude to Pakistan, separatists and militants for “allowing smooth elections in Kashmir”, Togadia asked: “If Mufti has been obliged by Pakistan, why shouldn’t he contest next elections from that country?”
“None other than Pakistan has set Kashmir on fire for 25 years and caused massive destruction in this State. People here have suffered because of Pakistan. Should he be grateful to Pakistan or the hapless people who have suffered immensely over the last 25 years?”, Togadia asked, questioning Mufti’s acknowledgement of the neighbouring country’s “support” to holding of Assembly elections.
“People here gave mandate for a change and this mandate was against the terrorism which destroyed the State”, he added. He asserted that the Sangh constituents had not diluted their stand on abrogation of Article 370, State subject rights to West Pakistan refugees, rehabilitation of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits and other key issues. He said that by announcing release and rehabilitation of the separatist militants, Mufti’s government should not absorb anti-national elements into the ranks of various government departments, particularly Police. “Mufti should not think of creating a militant brigade in the J&K Police”, Togadia said.
Meanwhile Alam’s release unfolded a political crisis for BJP as scores of Congress and Youth Congress activists here held demonstrations against the ruling coalition partner. They shouted anti-BJP slogans, claiming that the BJP had “surrendered completely” before the PDP. They also demanded Alam’s re-arrest.
Visibly perturbed by the public sentiment turning against it in Jammu, BJP held a closed-door meeting to discuss the crisis. Party’s national General Secretary Avinash Rai Khanna presided over the meeting which was attended by senior BJP leaders.
After the meeting concluded, BJP State President Jugal Kishore told mediapersons that his party had expressed and communicated “serious resentment and concern” to the Mufti government over Alam’s release. “We categorically disown this action. BJP has not been taken on board. We will take up this matter very seriously after our leader and Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh returns from his Kashmir visit”, Kishore said.
The BJP leader said that his party would “review” its power sharing with Mufti and his PDP even as the government had been formed for six years.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

PDP-BJP’s CMP? Togadia walks free in Jammu, Massarat in Kashmir

Mufti Govt. permits VHP’s weeklong Golden Jubilee Samaroh, directs Police not to touch hate-monger

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

Jammu, March 7: Even as the authorities in Rajouri district of the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir have written to the State Home Department that the right wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Praveen Togadia be not allowed to enter or hold his organisation’s scheduled rally on March 15th, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s government has, in a significant political development, not only issued permission to the Sangh Parivar outfit to celebrate its Swaran Jayanti Samaroh [Golden Jubilee event] but also directed Police not to arrest a man wanted in a criminal case.

On District Magistrate Ghulam Ahmad Khwaja’s complaint,Police Station Rajouri had in March 2012 booked Togadia in FIR No: 98/2012 under section 153 of Ranbir Penal Code after his speech at a VHP rally hurt the religious sentiments of one particular community and created a major communal turmoil. Togadia had allegedly expressed himself as proud of killing 6,000 Muslims in the Gujarat riots of 2002 and threatened to “teach 10 crore Muslims a lesson if a single Hindu is harmed in Jammu”. Under law, he is required to be arrested and questioned and if charges against him are proved, he is to be prosecuted for punishment.

Togadia’s speech had led to communal strife and days of curfew in Rajouri and the situation began limping back to normality with the removal of Deputy Commissioner Khwaja and Superintendent of Police Vijay Singh Sambyal.

Even as Police failed to arrest Togadia, he was pushed back to Delhi on his arrival at Jammu airport when he made an attempt to address another event of his organisation in 2012. Then Chief Minister and head of the National Conference-Congress government Omar Abdullah had asserted that Togadia would never enter the State “as long as I am the Chief Minister”.

Authint Mail on Saturday learned from authoritative sources said that the district administration in Jammu, under instructions from the government, has permitted the VHP’s golden jubilee celebration. VHP’s International President Togadia, who is wanted by Police in the Rajouri FIR, is scheduled to address the organisation’s rally here on Sunday.

Officials said that the VHP has actually communicated to the State government that it was going to hold the weeklong Golden Jubilee celebrations in different districts of Jammu division---beginning with the inaugural event in Jammu city on March 8th and closing with the finale at Rajouri on March 15th.

VHP is a key constituent of the Hindu right wing Sangh Parivar which has its political arm, BJP, as a partner in Mufti’s coalition government that assumed office in Jammu and Kashmir on March 1st.

Sources said that the joint supporters of BJP, VHP and Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh [RSS] would attend the rally and listen to Togadia. It was not immediately clear if any of the BJP’s Ministers, particularly those from the RSS background, would participate in the rally. This is for the first time in the State’s history that the VHP would be holding a rally with the government support and facilitation.

Last month, State governments of Odisha, Karnataka and Assam imposed ban on the VHP’s Golden Jubilee celebrations and did not enter Togadia to enter Khandamal, Bengaluru and Guwahati to address the rallies for fear of “disruption to peace”. However, with the BJP being in power for the first time, Togadia would be walking free to hold the weeklong event for the first time in India’s only Muslim-majority State.

Even as it was not immediately clear whether or not the Deputy Commissioners of other districts in Jammu province had issued permission to the VHP rallies, official sources said that the Police and Civil Administration had “requested” the State not to allow Togadia to enter Rajouri district.

“No, we are not going to arrest him”, said a senior official in the border district, underscoring that the authorities in any area could not affect such an high profile arrest without a green signal from the government. Contrarily, there were instructions that Togadia should be provided with “adequate security” during his participation in the VHP’s Swaran Jayanti Samaroh.

‘Unholy trade-off’

Averse to being quoted, officials revealed that there was “definitely some link” between issuing permission to Togadia’s rally and release of the prominent Kashmiri separatist Massarat Alam from a jail. Inspite of holiday on Saturday, Chief Minister Mufti and his Ministers were “busy in meetings” at Civil Secretariat when Alam was released from Sub Jail of Baramulla. Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar was also at work. Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar told mediapersons that Alam’s release was consequent upon court orders as his detention under Public Safety Act had been quashed one after another.

Alam had been arrested for his alleged role in the bloody street turmoil of 2010 that left over a hundred demonstrators and arsonists dead and thousands injured.

Dispelling impression that Mufti’s government had begun to release “hundreds of detained militants and political detenus”, DGP said that Massarat was the “only political detainee”. With regard to Togadia, he made it clear that the Police would not stop anybody from attending the VHP rally until anybody violated law.