Separatist leader and his supporters had waved Pakistani flag
GN Bureau | April 16, 2015
The co-incidence cannot be lost or forgotten in a hurry. Kashmir’s separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani had his last rally in 2010 and another separatist leader Masarat Alam had led violent street protest in 2010. Now, both of them have triggered hot controversy, on the same day and at the same rally.
On Wednesday, Alam and his supporters raised anti-India slogans, waved Pakistani flag to greet Geelani. Alam is the chairman of Muslim League, a constituent of hardline Hurriyat Conference led by Geelani and likely to succeed him.
After a gap of five years, Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday had allowed Geelani to hold the rally where his supporters including Masarat Alam, released from jail last month, raised pro-Pakistan slogans and waved Pakistani flags.
Alam, who was released soon after PDP-BJP government came to power in the state, led the march from the Srinagar airport to Geelani's residence at Hyderpora. This was Geelani's first public rally after the 2010 agitation in Srinagar in which over 100 youths were killed. Alam was a key player in the entire agitation.
Meanwhile, the Centre has asked the Jammu and Kashmir Government to take strictest possible steps against those involved in anti-national actions during a rally led by Geelani.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on Wednesday night and made it clear that the issue of national security cannot be compromised.
The home minister directed that "strictest possible action should be taken against those involved in it."
Meanwhile, protesters on Thursday took to the streets sharply to express their anger and anxiety over Kashmiri separatist leader Masarat Alam and his supporters raising pro-Pakistani slogans on Wednesday.
"Yasin Malik, Masarat Alam and securities of other separatists should be suspended. They should be arrested soon. Jammu and Kashmir is the integral part of India and will always remain so," a protestor said.
The BJP also reacted to the issue and said that the state government should take cognizance of the matter. “The manner in which Pakistani flags were being raised during a protest in Srinagar is completely unacceptable. The government should take cognizance of the matter,” said BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao.
Masarat Alam, 44, was allegedly the main organiser of the massive protests in 2010 that saw Kashmiris clashing for months with Indian soldiers and police officers. More than 100 people were killed in the violence. He was released controversially from Baramulla jail in March, days after Sayeed took over as chief minister at the head of a government in which the BJP partners.
The latest controversy is likely to further strain the relationship between partners PDP and BJP, who are ideological opposites but have joined hands govern Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of a common minimum programme.
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