Separatist leader Masrat Alam's release rocks Parliament

New Delhi: The release of separatist leader Masrat Alam in Jammu and Kashmir created uproar in both houses of parliament even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarified that the central government was not consulted on the decision.

The prime minister, in a statement in the Lok Sabha, said it was legitimate for the house to show its anger on the issue.

"There is an anger in the country, and in the house and I join them... I assure the nation, whatever is happening in the state, it is not being done in consultation with the central government, nor has the central government been informed," Modi said.

He asked leaders in the Lok Sabha not to make a political issue of the matter, and said: "At least on the issue of separatists and terrorism, the country should not think along party lines."

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in similar statements made in both houses, informed the members that a clarification was sought from the state government, but the Centre is not satisfied with the reply.

"We have been informed that he has been released, but we are not satisfied with the response and have sought clarifications," Singh informed parliament.

While giving clarifications on his statement in the Rajya Sabha, the home minister said Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India.

"I am happy that the whole house is concerned. If I can understand their feeling, the whole house agrees that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, and will always be," he said.

"...I want to assure the house, and I am speaking on behalf of the prime minister, we will not allow anyone to disintegrate the nation, howsoever big the power may be," he added.

Opposition members, irrespective of party affiliation, expressed their anger on the issue and questioned the ruling BJP, which is in alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said Alam is guilty of the death of the 112 youth who were killed during the stone-pelting agitation during 2010.

"People like him are not just stone-pelters, they are master minds... I believe 112 youths were killed because of him," said Azad.

In the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said: "The Jammu and Kashmir government must have consulted the prime minister on this. You have a coalition government with the PDP."

While both houses of parliament witnessed uproar, Jammu and Kashmir remain calm.

Life was normal in the state despite a two-day shutdown call given by the Panthers Party in Jammu against the release of Alam.

Shops, other business establishments, government offices, banks, post offices and public transport operated normally in Jammu city and other parts of the Jammu region and across Kashmir.

The shutdown call had little effect on life in Jammu, where BJP leaders, including the ministers in the ruling coalition, refused to speak to the media on the controversy created by the separatist leader's release.

Alam, however, said Mufti Sayeed was not to be credited for his release.

"Mufti Sayeed should not try to take political mileage out of it. I was released through a normal legal procedure since my Public safety Act (PSA) detention was about to end in the next two to three days," Alam told reporters in Srinagar.

He also said that his release should not be turned into a political issue.

"What difference does it make if one person is released when there are thousands languishing in jails," he said while denying that he had been responsible for the killings of youths during the 2010 unrest in the Valley.

"It was Omar Abdullah and not me who was responsible for those killings," Alam said.

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