Caged

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With six PSAs in a row and 16 in all, Masarat Alam holds a kind of record. The state, however, is in no mood to let him go and recycles grounds to detain him. Haroon Mirani reports.

The remand just ensured that the separatist, probably the state considers among the most dreaded ones, remains behind bars. The remand comes three weeks after the High Court quashed a Public Safety Act – sixth in a row – against Alam and ordering his release. The Court found inadequate evidence against Alam to keep him detained under the dreaded act.n January 21 Masarat Alam, the chairman of Muslim League, was sent to 10 days judicial remand by Naib Tehsildar after police brought a case against him under section 107 and 152 in Shaheed Gunj Police Station.

“As of now Masrat Alam has got bail under 107 from the competent authority which in this case is a Tehsildar,” said Advocate Bilal Ahmad who has been fighting his case along with a battery of other lawyers. “But he is still not released and presently we don’t know in which case he is detained.”

A former commander of Hizbullah, Alam has been an eyesore for the security agencies, who on their part, are trying to keep him caged at any cost.

With six PSA’s in a row, he has already been slapped with 16 PSAs in the last two decades, probably a record in both cases. While as High court quashes the PSAs for lack of evidence or weak grounds of detention, nothing stops police from detaining him again and again.

Alam has been associated with separatist activities from his student days. As a teenager, he participated in activities under Mushtaq ul Islam is known popularly as Guga Sahib and other leaders of Students federation.

After the outbreak of militancy, Alam joined militant group Hizbullah. He was arrested and after his release, Alam joined Muslim League in 1993, which was seen as the political front of Hizbullah. In 1997 he became its Secretary-General and in December 2005 its Chairman. His personal life has been full of struggle. A resident of Zaindar Mohalla Srinagar, Alam lost his father Abdul Majeed Bhat when he was a kid.

For his hardline approach and activism, the government has always been wary of him.

Analysts say that Alam’s close association with top separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has earned him the wrath of security agencies. At one point of time, he was tipped to be the successor of Geelani by the patriarch himself.

Not many people know that Alam was an employee in the State Forests Department. His last posting was at Budgam before the government terminated his services in 2000.

Masrat Alam was arrested on Sep 19, 2008, following the Amaranth land row agitation. He had been released in May earlier after serving more than one year of detention under multiple PSAs.

A PSA was subsequently slapped on him again. Even as most of the separatist leaders were released after state elections Alam continues to remain under detention.

On January 01, 2010, Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir found the evidence produced by police inadequate to book anyone under the PSA and accordingly directed his release, if not required in any other case. On January 14, police produced Masarat before Sub-Registrar to seek his judicial remand. Subsequently, Sub-Registrar sent Masarat to seven-day judicial remand, which ended on January 20.

The lawyers of Masrat Alam have been accusing police of not complying with court orders. On January 20 the Forest Magistrate had declined the remand and ordered his immediate release. But the police instead of complying with the court orders, detained Masarat in Police Station Shaheed Gunj.

Saying that the police has violated the court orders, the lawyers are contemplating filing contempt petition against police.

Condemning Alam’s detention, Hurriyat Spokesman Zahid Ali said, the police was not respecting court orders “Masrat Alam was re-arrested in Central Jail lawn here after his release order by the court. He has been taken to some unknown destination,” he said.

The grounds of detention brought against Alam lately have been not been able to stand in court. In October, a PSA against Alam accused him of being involved in unlawful activities and disrupting peace in the Valley. Advocate Mian Qayoom, who pleaded his case, argued that Masrat had not been released since his PSA was revoked so how could he be involved in unlawful activities and disrupting peace.

A senior leader of Muslim League told Kashmir Life that throughout his political life Alam has remained in jails for about 12 years.

Party leaders allege that Alam has also been brutally tortured and interrogated during his detention, which has affected his health. His right leg was broken during interrogation in 1998. On Mar 13, 2008, Lawyers at lower courts went on a day-long strike in protest against the alleged assault on Masrat Alam by Police and CRPF officials inside the jail.

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