New Delhi: In a bid to douse the row over release of Masarat Alam, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said he would ensure the surveillance of the Jammu and Kashmir separatist leader and his supporters to maintain public order.
Speaking in Parliament, Singh said the Jammu and Kashmir government has told the Centre that Alam's activities are under watch and legal action will be taken if anything adverse comes to notice.
Singh added that the Centre has issued an advisory to the state asking it to pursue "vigorously" all the 27 criminal cases against Alam and take steps to challenge orders granting him bail.
Singh made identical suo motu statements in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on an issue that recently had snowballed into a major controversy and created strains between BJP and its ruling coalition partner PDP in the state.
"The state government has .. Informed that a proper system is in place to have an effective surveillance of Masarat Alam Bhat's activities. As and when anything adverse surfaces, appropriate action as envisaged by law will be taken.”
"The intelligence apparatus and local police work in tandem, thereby facilitating planning of advance and adequate deployment of law and order components for maintenance of peace and order in areas likely to be visited by Masarat Alam Bhat and other separatist elements," Singh said citing a fresh report sent by the Mufti Sayeed government to the Centre.
He said the Home Ministry has issued to Jammu and Kashmir government an advisory which says, "A close surveillance must be ensured on such of the activities of Masarat Alam Bhat and his other associates and followers, which are deterimental to the public order or the unity and integrity of the country in general and the state of Jammu and Kashmir in particular."
He said the state government has also been told that all 27 criminal cases registered against Masarat Alam Bhat "should be pursued vigorously and steps should be taken as per law to challenge the orders pertaining to the grant of bail to him in such cases."
The Jammu and Kashmir government will ensure that the surveillance and monitoring of the activities of Alam and his associates and followers ... "is done in close tandem with the central government security and intelligence agencies in the larger interest of maintaining peace and public order and normalcy in the state," the Home Minister said.
The Centre had earlier asserted that the NDA government's top priority was national security and not continuance of the state government.
Recalling that he had made a statement in both Houses on Monday on the report received from government of Jammu and Kashmir regarding Alam's release, Singh said the Centre has received a further report from the state in which it has stated that there were "no fresh grounds for his detention as verified by the District Magistrate Jammu".
The state government has said the grounds based on which earlier detention orders were quashed by the High Court and this detention order contained the same old grounds of detention, he said.
He said the detention order issued by the District Magistrate Jammu on September 15, 2014 was received in the Home department of Jammu and Kashmir on October 9, 2014 after the lapse of 23 days and hence the same could not be approved.
The state government has informed that 27 criminal cases are continuing against Masarat Alam Bhat and he was booked eight times since February 2010 under Section 8 of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act of 1978, Singh said.
The last such detention order was issued by the District Magistrate Jammu on September 15, 2014 and such a detention order issued by the District Magistrate Jammu was to be approved by the state government within 12 days of the issuance of such detention order as per section 8(4) of the Public Safety Act.
He said the state has informed that the Supreme Court of India had also observed in March 2013 that if any fresh detention order is issued for detention with respect to Masarat Alam Bhat, the 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 detention order dated September 15, 2014 issued by him ceased to remain in force," he said.
Singh added that the District Magistrate Jammu was further informed that a fresh order can, however, be issued for detention of the detenee after following the procedure prescribed in the Public Safety Act and directions of the Supreme Court and thereafter the detenee was released on March 07, 2015.
Jyotiraditya Scinda (Congress), however, showed his dissatisfaction with the Home Minister's reply, saying it did not address points raised by him yesterday.
He said when the decision to release Alam was taken, the state was under the Governor's Rule and thus responsibility for it lay with the Centre as well.
Singh reiterated that Alam could have been detained only under fresh grounds, inviting protests from Scindia and other Congress members who said he was being repeatedly detained under some ground.
The Speaker, however, did not allow Scindia to seek more clarification saying it was against rules and he can raise the issue later.
Scindia had said yesterday said that when the district authorities directed the concerned SP to release Alam and inform the Home department about it, the state was under Governor's Rule.
"Had the Centre wanted, it could have ensured issuance of fresh orders to keep him under detention," he had said, adding that either the Centre was not aware of the issue or it was "hand-in-gloves" with the state administration on his release.
(With PTI inputs)