Jammu: Ignoring the opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Mufti Mohd Sayeed government in Jammu Kashmir, Saturday, released chief of Muslim league and senior Hurriyat Conference leader Masarat Alam from Baramulla jail.
Alam was lodged in the Baramulla jail since 2010 after he was arrested for organising anti-India protests across the Kashmir valley.
Alam, who has 17 other cases pending against him and also carried a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh for information leading to his arrest, had gone underground after the protests and was nabbed by the police after four months from Telbal.
The separatist leader rose to prominence during the Amarnath land row in 2008. He was arrested in September 2008 and booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).
However, Masarat does not face any criminal charge despite his detention under PSA for the last over four years.
The 42-year-old science graduate, is know to enjoy substantial support on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC). He is also widely seen as a successor to Syed Ali Shah Geelani as head of the Hurriyat.
Meanwhile, People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti said that the release of political prisoners was not new, adding that there was no need to make such a big issue about it.
"We talked of political prisoners not militants and the release of political prisoners is not new. In year 2002, when we were in the government in alliance with the Congress and Vajpayee ji was leading the Centre in Delhi and LK Advani was the Home Minister , senior political prisoners against whom no no criminal charges were registered were released," Mufti said, as per ANI.
BJP leader Ravinder Raina, on the other hand, opposed the J&K government's decision to release hard-line Hurriyat leader Masarat Alam from the prison after the state government adopted a policy to free political prisoners who do not face criminal charges.
"Any move by the state government to release anti national, Pakistan supporters, separatist leaders and terrorists from jail would lead to serious consequences. BJP outrightly rejects this move and demands the abolition of surrender and rehabilitation policy. This policy is an insult to the security forces, Indian Army and the nationalist people of Jammu , Kashmir and Laddak," said Raina.
Bharatiya Janata Party workers even staged a protest here against the release of Hurriyat leader Mashrat Alam.
Earlier on Wednesday, J&K CM Mufti Sayeed had directed the police to start the process of releasing political prisoners who do not face any criminal charges.
By releasing Alam, Chief Minister Sayeed has once again risked alternating its ally BJP. He had earlier stoked a major controversy with his remarks that Pakistan and militants had facilitated the smooth Assembly elections in the state.
(With Agency inputs)