Aijaz Mansoor is upset about a tough punishment
Yasin Malik jailed for life, head of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was incarcerated in the notorious Tihar Jail in India since 2019, was finally convicted and sentenced for life. The court in the capital Delhi gave Malik, 56, two life sentences and five 10-year jail terms, all to be served concurrently. The court found him guilty of participating in and funding terrorist acts and involvement in criminal conspiracy. In this context Malik told the court that he gave up arms in the 1990s but the court was unmoved while sentencing him. India’s National Investigating Agency (NIA), which deals with anti-terror crimes, had demanded the death penalty for Malik, the leader of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmiri Liberation Front (JKLF) and the defence had asked for life imprisonment.
His imprisonment is roundly criticised by many circles around the world who accuse that the Indian authorities want to make an example of Yasin Malik in order to subjugate the Muslim population of the Kashmir. It is also mentioned that Malik’s conviction and sentencing is not based on any incriminating evidence Indian courts were presented with. It is essentially about separating Kashmiri leaders from their people so that the Indian state can continue its settler colonial project and also a Hindu nationalist spectacle meant to show Indians that Modi’s India can arbitrarily inflict violence against Kashmir Muslims.
The JKLF was one of the first armed freedom fighting groups to come into existence in occupied Kashmir. It supported an independent and united Kashmir. Led by Malik, the group gave up armed resistance in 1994. A resistance movement broke out in occupied Kashmir in 1989 with fighters demanding an independent Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training rebel groups to fight Indian forces, an allegation Pakistan vehemently opposes and denies. Pakistan says it provides only moral and diplomatic support to insurgents. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Muslim-majority Kashmir since an armed revolt against rule by India that erupted in 1989.
In occupied Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, police fired tear gas and pellets to disperse stone-pelting protesters outside Malik’s residence. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters near Malik’s home in Srinagar. Shops in some areas of Srinagar, the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir, were shut and police fired tear gas to disperse stone-throwing protesters outside Malik’s residence. Mobile internet has been suspended in the region as a security precaution. Malik’s wife Mushaal Hussein, who resides in Pakistan, said that the sentencing was illegitimate and termed the verdict as delivered by an Indian kangaroo court.
Malik was arrested shortly after the JKLF was banned in 2019. He did not contest the charges brought against him under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), as well as sedition and criminal conspiracy charges but a statement released by the JKLF after he was convicted last week called the charges fabricated and politically motivated. He also told the court that after giving up weapons in 1994, he had followed the principles of Mahatma Gandhi and since then he had been following non-violent politics in Kashmir. He challenged the Indian intelligence agencies to prove that he had been involved in any terror activity since then, though, the prosecution alleged that the acts for which he was convicted took place in 2010 and 2016.
Many political commentators describe Malik as a saner voice among the separatists and said his sentencing was a major setback to separatist politics in the region. He did not shun dialogue though many hard-line groups would deride and laugh at his image as a Gandhian but Malik continued with his Gandhian ideals and has entered into talks with both India and Pakistan for the resolution of Kashmir issue.
Yasin Malik has lived a charmed life. He started his political career as the leader of Islamic Students League, which supported Muslim United Front (MUF) that was contesting against the National Conference (NC)-Congress alliance. Malik became the polling agent of MUF candidate Mohammad Yusuf Shah. Shah lost the elections that were allegedly rigged in favour of the NC-Congress coalition. He moved to armed movement and went on to take up the name of Sayeed Salahuddin to become the leader of terrorist organisation Hizbul Mujahideen. Yasin Malik transitioned from political activism to overt militancy and terrorism when he joined JKLF.
Malik was eventually arrested in 1990 and was released four years later in 1994. After coming out of jail, Malik gave up violence that led to a split in JKLF, leading to two factions, one led by Malik that would work towards non-violent Kashmiri separatism and another led by Amanullah Khan that would continue with the violence. He joined the political mainstream and was reportedly involved in back-channel talks with the government, even meeting the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his official residence in Delhi in 2006 and appearing in popular television shows like Aap ki Adaalat. TW