New Delhi: Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday that the Jammu and Kashmir government has been told to vigorously pursue all 27 cases against separatist leader Masarat Alam and maintain "close surveillance" on him in tandem with the Centre.
Alam's release from jail earlier this month on orders of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed sparked a political furore and has created tension within the ruling coalition between his party Peoples Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Making a statement in parliament, Rajnath Singh said the home ministry has issued an advisory to the state asking it to take steps to challenge the bail granted to Alam in all cases.
"All 27 criminal cases registered against Masarat Alam Bhat will be pursued vigorously," he said.
Rajnath Singh said the state government has been told that close surveillance must be ensured on activities of Alam and his associates which are detrimental to public order and to the unity and integrity of the country and the state.
He said appropriate action should be taken immediately if anything adverse is noticed by authorities.
"The state government will ensure that surveillance and monitoring of activities of Masarat Alam Bhat and his followers is done in close tandem with the central government, security and intelligence agencies in larger interest of peace, public order and normalcy in the state," Rajnath Singh said.
The minister said he had earlier informed the house that the government was not satisfied with the state government's report on Alam's release. He said the Centre had received a "further report" from the Sayeed government.
Congress members in Lok Sabha raised questions over Rajnath Singh's remarks, asking why fresh orders for Masarat's detention were not issued in February when the state was under President's Rule. "There is a fixed match between the PDP and the BJP," Congress spokesperson Ajay Kumar told reporters later.
In his statement, Rajnath Singh said the state government had informed that 27 criminal cases were continuing against Alam and he has been booked eight times since February 2010 under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act of 1978.
The minister said the last order of detention was issued by the Jammu district magistrate on September 15, 2014, and such orders have to be approved by the state government within 12 days.
He said the detention order of the district magistrate was received by the home department of the state on October 9, 2014, "after a lapse of 23 days and hence the same could not be approved".
The minister said state government had further informed that there were no fresh grounds for detention as verified from the district magistrate.
Rajnath Singh said the Supreme Court had observed in March 2013 that if any fresh detention order is issued concerning Alam, it will not come into force for one week from the date of communication of order to enable him to pursue appropriate legal remedy.
He said that following some correspondence, the state government wrote to the district magistrate, Jammu in February this year that the detention order of September last year had ceased to remain in force but a fresh order can be issued for his detention after following the procedure prescribed in the PSA.
"Thereafter, the detenu was released on March 7, 2015," he said.
Rajnath Singh said the state government had also informed that a proper system was in place for effective surveillance on activities of Alam and appropriate action will be taken if anything adverse surfaces.
Replying to points raised by Congress members in Lok Sabha, Rajnath Singh said there had to be fresh grounds for Alam's further detention in February. Congress members, however, expressed their dissatisfaction over the reply.
Sayeed had earlier this week assured Rajnath Singh that no separatist would be released in future without taking the BJP into confidence.
A serious crisis had developed between the PDP and the BJP after Sayeed ordered Alam's release without taking the BJP on board. Opposition parties in parliament had strongly criticised the decision and had sought a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.