In a significant move, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) declared the ‘Muslim League Jammu Kashmir (Masarat Alam faction)’ (MLJK-MA) as an ‘Unlawful Association’ under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for the next five years, effective immediately. Union Home Minister Amit Shah emphasised that those acting against the unity, sovereignty, and integrity of the nation will face the full force of the law.
The MHA’s notification pointed out that the MLJK-MA, chaired by Masarat Alam Bhat, is notorious for its anti-India and pro-Pakistan propaganda. The ministry’s action was prompted by information indicating that the organisation’s objectives include securing freedom for Jammu and Kashmir from India, merging the region with Pakistan, and establishing Islamic rule in the area.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967), the Central Government hereby declares the Muslim League Jammu Kashmir (Masarat Alam faction) as an unlawful association with immediate effect for a period of five years,” reads the notification.
Shortly after the issuance of the notification, Home Minister Amit Shah announced the development on ‘X’, formerly known as Twitter. He stated, “This organisation and its members are involved in anti-national and secessionist activities in J&K, supporting terrorist activities and inciting people to establish Islamic rule in J&K.”
He further emphasised the government’s stance, saying, “The PM @narendramodi government’s message is loud and clear that anyone acting against the unity, sovereignty, and integrity of our nation will not be spared and face the full wrath of the law.”
According to the MHA notification, members of the MLJK-MA have engaged in secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir, raising funds through various sources, including Pakistan and its proxy organisations, to support terrorist activities and sustained stone-pelting on security forces.
The notification highlights that the MLJK-MA, through its activities, demonstrates disrespect towards the constitutional authority and constitutional setup of the country. Its leaders and members, particularly Chairman Masarat Alam Bhat, have been involved in unlawful activities prejudicial to the integrity, sovereignty, security, and communal harmony of the country.
The MHA revealed numerous inputs indicating linkages between MLJK-MA and banned terrorist organisations. The group and its members have been supporting terrorist activities with the intent to create a reign of terror, endangering the security and public order of the state. The anti-national activities of MLJK-MA also exhibit disregard for the constitutional authority and sovereignty of the state, prompting the need for immediate action against the organisation.
The notification stresses that if there is no immediate curb on the unlawful activities of MLJK-MA, it will continue to engage in anti-national activities detrimental to the territorial integrity, security, and sovereignty of the country. The organisation may persist in advocating the secession of Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India, disputing its accession, and propagating false narratives and anti-national sentiments with the intention to cause disaffection against India and disrupt public order.
Given these reasons, the Central government firmly believes that an immediate declaration of MLJK-MA as an ‘unlawful association’ is necessary.
Masarat Alam, the current chairman of the Hurriyat Conference and successor to the late Syed Ali Shah Geelani, leads the separatist organisation known as the Muslim League Jammu Kashmir (MLJK). Currently incarcerated, Alam’s appointment as the chairman of the Hurriyat Conference was largely perceived as symbolic.
Having spent nearly 13 years in detention, Alam gained attention in 2010 when he issued calendars of protests, leading to his subsequent detention under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA).
In 2015, during Mufti Sayeed’s tenure as Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Alam was briefly released following a request for the release of political prisoners. However, his freedom was short-lived, and he was detained again after Pakistani flags were raised during his protests. It is alleged that Alam orchestrated protests from jail in 2016 after meeting with certain individuals.
A prominent figure in the pro-Azadi protests in the Valley in 2010, Alam, along with several other leaders, was arrested in the aftermath of those demonstrations. He was eventually released in 2015 but has remained a central figure in the ongoing political landscape, despite periods of detention and legal challenges.
The Masarat Alam faction of MLJK will now be subject to the stipulations and penalties outlined in the UAPA. These sanctions can encompass a ban on its activities, confiscation of property, and criminal penalties for its members.