Srinagar: A defiant hardline separatist leader Masarat Alam, whose release has triggered a strong political reaction, on Sunday said the change of government does not mean change of reality on the ground.

“Changing (state) governments does not change the reality on the ground. It does not affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Only the people (of the state) can change it,” he told PTI, a day after he was freed after four and a half years of detention.

Alam, the leader of Muslim League party, rejected suggestions that there was a secret deal between him and the state government over this release and it could lead to dialogue between the Centre and the separatists.

“What is the big deal in my release? I have been going in and coming out of jails for the last 20 years. What is new in my release now?” he asked amid a major row over his release.

He said the state government had done him no favour as his release was part of normal judicial process and the term of the detention under Public Safety Act had expired.

“I have not been done any favour by the government. My release is part of the normal judicial process,” Alam said.

He said he had been repeatedly booked under Public Safety Act (PSA) even though “I had been granted bail by the concerned courts also.”

On the controversy related to his release, Alam said, “If there is any hue and cry over my release, it is their headache.”

Asked if his release was an indication of resumption of dialogue between the separatists and the government, Alam said a decision on the matter will be taken by Hurriyat Conference.

“We (Muslim League) are a part of the forum (Hurriyat Conference). Whatever decision the forum takes on talks, I will follow it,” he added.

The separatist leader was arrested in October 2010 at the end of agitation that year. (PTI)