Masrat Alam gets 31st PSA

Re-arrested after HC quashes his detention order; He is threat to peace, says top intelligence officer

ABID BASHIR
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 31 2015 12:31AM | Updated Date: Dec 31 2015 12:31AM
Masrat Alam gets 31st PSAFile Photo

Hours after J&K High Court quashed the detention of separatist leader Masrat Alam Bhat under Public Safety Act (PSA), police arrested him again outside Jammu’s Kotbalwal Jail late Tuesday evening, with a top intelligence officer asserting that he continues to be a big threat to peace in J&K.

Police sources said that a fresh dossier would be prepared against Bhat and it is certain that “another PSA will be slapped against him.” 

Bhat’s PSA detention was quashed on Tuesday by a single-judge bench of the HC headed by Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar. This was the 30th time that HC has quashed his PSA detention.

Police sources said that Bhat, who is the chairman of separatist organization Muslim League, was re-arrested late Tuesday evening outside Kotbalwal Jail, though the grounds of his fresh detention were not yet known. On August 21, High Court had quashed previous detention of Bhat, who was booked under Public Safety Act on April 17 this year.

A senior intelligence officer stated that Bhat continues to be big threat to peace in J&K. “He is a staunch jihadist,” the officer said. Police sources said that Bhat has been slapped with at least 31 PSA detentions and has 27 FIRs against him, most of them having serious charges including “waging war against State.”

Muslim League spokesman Muhammad Rafiq Ganai said State is hell-bent to punish Bhat for ‘none of his fault.’ “There is no justification for the State to keep Bhat under custody when the High Court has quashed his PSA again. The move is political vendetta,” said Ganai. “On the directions of government, now the police will find another false case against Bhat to justify his arrest. We strongly condemn the re-arrest.”

The 45-year-old separatist leader was arrested under the PSA on April 17 this year in Srinagar after he organized and led a rally to receive Hurriyat Conference (G) leader Syed Ali Geelani. Pakistani flags were allegedly waved in the rally, following which Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed-led newly formed PDP-BJP coalition government came under severe pressure from Delhi-based media for releasing Bhat. He had been released only a month back after detention of over four years under multiple PSA orders.

Bhat ran the 2010 agitation when the other top separatist leaders were caged. The new age separatist leader, who was raised in riches, went to elite Tyndale Biscoe School in Srinagar, was enrolled in an engineering college but ended up an Islamist and a Pakistan supporter.

Bhat is said to have whipped back to life the idea of secession first time after 90s when Kashmir was on the edge of cliff. Ever since, security experts have categorized him as ''very dangerous'' and the “next big threat from Kashmir.”

A police officer, who was on Bhat’s trail in 2010, said: ''Jail has not softened him. He was unrelenting. That is how he led a near revolt in 2010.''

Bhat’s formal induction into separatist politics happened in 1990 when he joined hands with Muhstaq-ul-Islam, a leading separatist along with Shakeel Ahmed Bakshi of Islamic Students League. In 1990 Bhat joined the ranks of militant group Hizbullah founded by Mushtaq. But his romance with the gun lasted only two months as he was arrested. Three years after his release he co-founded Muslim League with Mushtaq.

Bhat was born in 1971 at Zaindar Mohalla, a mixed neighborhood of Muslims and Pandits, in Srinagar. Abdul Samad Bhat, his grandfather, was a rich cloth merchant.