‘Masrat’ of Freedom

Shah Abbas


A police party from Srinagar reaches district sub jail Baramulla and furnishes a copy of government order to the authorities.

The order is about the freedom of Masrat Alam Bhat. Almost every jail in-charge had become habitual of receiving such orders about Masrat, but this time it was police who had come with the papers. So the in-charge Baramulla jail understood that Masrat is not going to be re-arrested this time.

Srinagar police party along with Masrat left the jail at about 6:45 pm and when it reached police station Shaheed Gunj, a couple of officers received Masrat warmly.

“What next,”? Asked Masrat to one of the officers even he was informed in Kupwara about his freedom. “This time you will be going to your home,” the officer confirmed Masrat’s freedom smilingly and offered him a cup of tea. “No thank you, I don’t want this,” Masrat politely rejected the offer because he was not feeling well since some days.

In the meantime, Masrat’s uncle enters the room and hugs his nephew whom he loves perhaps like his son. The re-union made the men in uniform emotional enough that one of them had to inform Masrat’s uncle, “this time you are going to take Masrat with you.”

In Zainadar Mohalla of old town’s Habbakadal locality, more than two hundred people apart from the close relatives of Masrat are waiting for him. They had a couple of hours before heard about the development.

Masrat’s mother was more than happy to see her daughter in law (Masrat’s wife) smiling. It was after a long she had a delight on her face. She was exchanging her smile with Masrat’s physically disabled sister whose body language was describing her gladness for seeing her loving brother.

On the main road of Zainadar Mohalla, people do not believe their eyes. Masrat was in front of them, smiling and waving his arms to everyone. Some of his close friends hugged and did not leave him unless they made everybody’s eyes wet. “Masrat Teray Janisar, Beshumar Beshumar” was the slogan which broke the lull. This emotional slogan was followed by sloganeering in favour of “freedom” and Masrat led everybody to his house.

He passed between the two human rows receiving flower petals and sweets. Dozens of them garlanded Masrat and when he reached his mother no one who looked upon could control his tears.

One of Masrat’s close aides turned around and shouted “Shuhada Kay Waris,” and he received a huge reply. “Zinda Hein Zinda Hein.”

And so, ended Masrat’s 53 months old incarceration.

It all happened within twenty four hours. After the chief minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed directed the release of political prisoners (without criminal cases), the administration started working on the release of Masrat.

Masarat Alam Bhat, the man who spearheaded 2010 uprising, was released Saturday evening after spending four and a half years in different jails.

The release orders had come from the “higher level” before Deputy Commissioner Jammu signed the papers. Masrat was undergoing detention for a case registered in Jammu police station.

Hurriyat Conference (G) leader and Muslim League chief, Masrat spearheaded the 2010 uprisings on the instructions of his ‘Peer’ Syed Ali Geelani who was arrested along with his close associate, Mohammad Ashraf Sehrai in Kupwara on June 20, 2010 and later detained under Public Safety Act (PSA). Analysts believe that Geelani exhibited his confidence in Masrat because of the role he played during the Amarnath land row. Masrat was the last separatist leader arrested in 2008, a year after he married a woman who had lost her brother during the turmoil. He was released after 21 months only on bail in May 2010.

Masrat led the uprising, naming it “Quit Kashmir movement”. Soon writ of the government vanished and massive anti-India protests became order of the day for many months. Sources said the police party which arrested Masrat in Tailabal area on October 18, 2010 was rewarded with out of turn promotions and a bounty of Rs 10 lakh.


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