The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has declared ‘Muslim League Jammu Kashmir (Masarat Alam Bhat faction)’/MLJK-MA as an ‘Unlawful Association’ under the draconian UAPA.
“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. 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,” read a post on X by Home Minister Amit Shah.
52-year-old Masarat Alam Bhat, who has spent 17 years of his life in prison, a Syed Ali Shah Geelani loyalist, is a Kashmiri leader who believes Kashmiris should be given the right to self-determination.
Bhat, a science graduate, had a brief stint with armed rebellion against India in his teenage years before he was arrested and released two years later in 1993. After walking free, he co-founded the Muslim League, a pro-Azadi group that was a part of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC).
While Bhat has been a part of the separatist politics for over two decades, he gained widespread popularity in 2010 when he led thousands of youths in Srinagar who protested against the killing of Tufail Mattoo, a teenager, by the Indian security forces.
The protest continued for months and saw the killing of more than 100 civilians by security forces. Bhat went underground from where he secretly issued protest calendars until he was arrested in October 2010.
Bhat has been imprisoned since 2015 after he was booked under the PSA. Frequently, the PSA against him would be revoked and he would be immediately booked in another case under the same law. He is currently jailed under a case related to alleged “terror funding”, like many other separatist leaders from the region.
Earlier, groups such as the socio-religious Jamaat-e-Islami and the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) have been banned by the Union government for their “secessionist” ideologies.