Separatist leader Masarat Alam arrested over waving of Pakistani flags

Alam walpapreKashmiri separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat was arrested by the Jammu & Kashmir Police in connection with the display of the Pakistani flag and raising anti-national slogans at a rally in Jammu and Kashmir on April 15.

“(Alam) has been arrested in the case registered at the Budgam police station, in connection with provocative actions during the rally on Wednesday” a senior police officer said. The 45-year-old leader was arrested from Habbakadal area of the city and was taken to the Shaheed Gunj police station.

Alam is known for his anti-India rhetoric and his penchant for organizing protests like these He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison in, 2010, under the Public Safety Act after the deaths of 112 people during the stone pelting rallies in the valley.

He was released from state prison in March by a freshly elected Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). His release had created much furore in the country, and the matter was hotly debated in the Parliament with Prime Minister Modi claiming not to know about the decision to release him.

While he was being led away by the police, Bhat said this was not a new story as, “Jammu and Kashmir is being ruled on the might of power” and that, “Raising of Pakistani flags and chanting pro-freedom slogans is nothing new in Jammu and Kashmir. It has been happening since 1947.” This rally follows protests over reports

of a plan to set up dedicated enclaves for relocated Kashmiri pandits in the valley.

Since their arrest, Bhat and senior hurriyat leaders-Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Pir Saiffulah have been placed under house arrest.

After his arrest, India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiran Rijiju said, “Alam’s arrest sends a strong message to the fringe groups. We will not tolerate any kind of anti-India activities.”

Earlier, the Hurriyat had called for a rally to protest the killing of 24-year-old civilian who was killed by the army in a gun battle. Police and CRPF had been deployed to keep a close eye on the rally.

It appears that the separatist leaders are becoming emboldened by what is perceived as a soft approach on the part of the Indian government in dealing with Kashmiri separatist tendencies.

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