The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Monday achieved a major success by arresting Massarat Alam Bhat, the most wanted separatist leader in Kashmir.
Inspector-General of Police Kashmir zone Shiv Murari Sahai told The Hindu that following a tip-off, Bhat was arrested from the house of his maternal uncle, Aftab Ahmad Shah, in Telbal area on the outskirts of Srinagar. “It is a success and he was a most wanted separatist,” Mr. Sahai said adding that Alam did not resist arrest. Sources said that he carried a reward of Rs. 5 lakh on his head.
Alam heads the pro-Pakistan Muslim League and is also general secretary of the hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference, led by Syed Ali Geelani.
Believed to be the main architect of the anti-India protests in the Valley for the past four months, the 38-year-old Alam was in hiding. He acted as a close confidant of Mr. Geelani and was seen as the one who chalked out 10-day protest calendars signed by Mr. Geelani.
Last Saturday, Alam circulated videos and asked people not to be “disheartened.” “We have faced economic losses and but the struggle must continue as Azadi [freedom] is round the corner,” said Alam. He had asked the youth to put up a brave face and not be “cowed down by laws such as the Public Safety Act.”
Alam has been jailed for more than 10 years on charges, mostly of waging war against the State and “acting against national interest.”
A student of Kashmir's prestigious missionary school, Tyndale Biscoe, Alam came from a secure middle-class background. He is a science graduate from SP College. Alam joined the political movement in 1987 as a 16-year-old, participating in rallies of the Muslim United Front, a conglomerate of separatist parties that contested the 1987 elections.
It was in the 2008 uprising against transfer of land to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board that he devised the ‘Ragda': a dance in which people formed circles, stood shoulder-to shoulder, and stomped their feet shouting anti-India slogans. This year, Alam coined the “Go India, Go Back” slogan.