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23 Years In Jail & Counting: Why Kashmiri Politician Masrat Alam Bhat Can’t Walk Free


Hilal Mir: Since, the summer of 1990, when Masrat Alam Bhat was first arrested in Srinagar, the 48-year-old politician has spent more than 23 years in jail in “preventive detention”, in the anticipation that were he to walk free, he could, potentially, commit a crime.

Each round of imprisonment lasts for between six months and a year, but just as one term ends, the police apply for another prevention detention order, and then another, and then another, to the point where he is currently serving his 37th preventive detention order.

The exact nature of the potential crime that Alam’s continued detention is preventing is unclear, and occasionally contradictory: One of the reasons for Alam’s detention in 2003 was that he had “divided the Hurriyat Conference”; five years later, his 2008 detention order claimed Alam had “united the Hurriyat Conference.”

Over the years, when the police have run out of excuses to detain Alam, they have named him in 50 different crimes — ranging from inciting protests to waging war against the state — but are yet to obtain a single conviction. More here.

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