Taking umbrage at the release of separatist leader Masarat Alam by Peoples Democratic Party-led Jammu and Kashmir government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday said the Centre was unaware of the development as its consent was not sought.
Forced to intervene in the face of stinging criticism by the opposition over the issue in both Houses of Parliament, Modi tried to stay clear of the controversy by clarifying that neither the Centre nor BJP, which is the ruling alliance partner in the state, was aware of the development.
This runs contrary to the state chief minister Mufti Muhammed Sayeed's earlier statement that he had shared everything with the Centre.
Modi rose amidst uproar by the Congress-led opposition over the issue.
A visibly perturbed Modi expressed his outrage on the developments.
"I also lend my voice to the outrage on the release of the separatist. This is not one party's outrage, it is the nation's outrage," he said in the Lok Sabha.
At the same time he promised that there will be "no compromise on the integrity of the nation" or public safety and security.
"Whatever is happening after the formation of the government in Jammu and Kashmir is being done without keeping the government of India or the centre in the loop," he clarified.
Earlier both Houses of Parliament saw vociferous protests by the united opposition who had also moved adjournment motions and demand for suspension of Question Hour to discuss this issue.
However, the chairpersons in both the Houses rejected this demand and permitted impromptu discussion.
Modi's intervention came in Lok Sabha after Home Minister Rajnath Singh's brief statement based on the information furnished by the state government on Masarat issued failed to satisfy the opposition.
"Don't teach us patriotism," he told the opposition, which was on its feet as soon as Modi's speech ended. Congress leader in the House Mallikarjun Kharge suggestion that BJP should withdraw support if it felt so strongly, resulted in a sharp reaction from Modi.
As opposition members took a dig at him as BJP is a part of the state's coalition government headed by PDP leader Sayeed, Modi said, "BJP had no reason to keep silent as we are the people who sacrificed Shyama Prasad Mukherjee."
Opposition parties, including Congress, TMC, RJD, walked out expressing their dissatisfaction with Modi's reply.
Earlier, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the Centre had asked the Jammu and Kashmir government for a report on the release and was not satisfied with its response. "I assure the House that after the full clarification from the state government, if needed, we will issue the most severe advisory," he said while listing charges against Masarat Alam, which, the minister said, include that of sedition.
Singh said the state government has informed the Centre that 27 criminal cases, including attempt to murder and sedition, are pending against Alam and he was detained under the Public Safety Act after he got bail in all the cases.
Alam, arrested during the 2010 unrest in Kashmir for allegedly inciting youth to pelt stones at security and police forces, was released by the newly-installed PDP-BJP coalition government on Saturday.
Singh further said that national security and safety will not be compromised and assured the House that the Union government had also taken the matter seriously and further clarification had been sought from the state government.
"We will ensure strong advisory is sent out to the state government if the clarification isn't satisfactory," he added.
Later, speaking in Rajya Sabha, Singh said the ideological differences existed between PDP and BJP.
"Despite ideological differences, this government was formed in Jammu and Kashmir, because the mandate was fractured. If not us, you could have formed the government. The garden that you destroyed, we are trying to make it bloom again," the home minister said, targeting the Congress.
In the Rajya Sabha, as opposition members accused the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) of having a "hidden agenda" in Jammu and Kashmir, the home minister said: "We have no hidden agenda. Our agenda is in the open."
Rajnath Singh also said that Modi has so far not had any talks with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on any topic of significance.
"The prime minister has not had any talks with Mufti Sahab on major issues. He met the PM but it was just a courtesy call," he said.