NEW DELHI — Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Lok Sabha today that his government had not been informed of the release of separatist leader Masarat Alam in Jammu & Kashmir. The PDP-BJP coalition in J&K has been uneasy since the day PDP leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was sworn in as chief minister.
"I assure the nation that the Centre was not informed about Alam's release," said Modi at Lok Sabha, adding that he has asked for clarification on the matter. "This 'aakrosh' (resentment) is not of one party's, but of the entire nation's," he said.
The Opposition had created a ruckus today in the Lok Sabha on Alam's release, demanding an explanation from Modi.
Several Opposition parties including Congress demanded suspension of Question Hour as soon as the House convened on Monday. Opposition members were heard shouting "Jawab do jawab do, Pradhan Mantri jawab do (Give a reply, Prime Minister give a reply)".
Assure the Nation that there is no compromise on the unity of the Nation: PM @narendramodi in the Lok Sabha— PMO India (@PMOIndia) March 9, 2015
This Aakrosh is not about any party or this bench or that bench. It is about the Nation: PM @narendramodi in the Lok Sabha— PMO India (@PMOIndia) March 9, 2015
While Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said Centre "was not consulted" on the release of Alam, Opposition parties demanded Modi spoke on the issue.
"This is a very serious issue... It concerns the entire country and not just one party (Congress)," he said.
Soon after, Home Minister Rajnath Singh gave a statement on Monday saying that the central government was not satisfied with the clarifications given by the J&K government Alam's release. He said that the Centre has sought a fresh report from it.
"Many leaders have expressed concern over the release of Alam. As soon as we got information in the matter, we asked for a report from the Jammu and Kashmir home department," Rajnath Singh said in the Lok Sabha.
"Public safety and security will not be compromised in this country," he added.
The home minister informed the house that the Jammu and Kashmir government has said that Masrat Alam had 27 criminal cases against him since 1995.
"They have informed that the high court has granted him bail on all 27 cases as he could be detained for only two years on the same grounds," Rajnath Singh said. Alam was detained under the Public Safety Act after he got bail in all the cases.
Earlier in the day, a dissatisfied Opposition, including members from Congress and TMC, trooped into the Well raising slogans. As the protests continued despite repeated appeals from Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, the proceedings were adjourned for 15 minutes.
Rejecting the Opposition's adjournment motion to suspend the Question Hour, Mahajan said she would allow them to raise the issue during the Zero Hour. Congress leader in the House Mallikarjun Kharge said that releasing terrorists like Alam would result in a great damage for the country.
"If such people are released, no one will survive in this country," he said. Kharge alleged that the J&K government, led by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, would not have done it without consulting its ally BJP. Observing that BJP, which is part of the J&K government, is also "equally responsible", he said the Chief Minister had earlier allegedly appreciated Pakistan for the peaceful conduct of assembly polls in the state. "Now this has again happened," Kharge said.
As opposition members took a dig at Modi 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."
To questions raised by opposition members, the Prime Minister said, "Don't teach us patriotism. As the Home Minister has said, we have sought more clarification from the state. We will inform Parliament on the action taken."
The release of Alam, leader of Muslim League, has created strains between the coalition partners with BJP insisting that such an action was not a part of the Common Minimum Programme on the basis of which the government was formed.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge attacked Modi over his assertion that the Centre was not told about the development and said BJP then should either pull out of the alliance government in J&K or put Alam should be put behind bars again.
Kalyan Banerjee (TMC) accused BJP of having given "tacit support" to the release of the "traitor" and said it cannot escape the responsibility for the state government's action as it is a partner in it. He said the opposition had thought the state government would refrain from taking any such action after the Home Minister had denounced Sayeed's statement which gave credit to Pakistan, militants and separatists for smooth polls in the state. P Venugopal (AIADMK), whose party has supported the treasury benches on many issues, also deplored Alam's release and said BJP should pull out of the government.
(with agency inputs)