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Yasin Malik’s sentence a major blow to separatist movement in Jammu & Kashmir

Source : The Week

Yasin Malik’s sentence a major blow to separatist movement in Jammu & Kashmir
JKLF chief Yasin Malik being escorted by security personnel at Patiala House court in New Delhi on Wednesday. (UNI)

The special NIA court’s order on Wednesday giving life sentence to senior separatist leader Yasin Malik and imposing a fine of Rs 10 lakh on him under various sections of the IPC and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) is major blow to the separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir.

Malik was convicted on May 19 but the decision on the quantum of sentence was deferred till May 25. Malik was awarded two life imprisonments and five imprisonments of ten years, each of which will run concurrently, under section 121 of IPC and section 21 of UAPA. 

The NIA had sought death penalty for Malik. The separatist leader can now appeal against the sentence but not against the judgement in the high court.

Malik’s sentence is significant as it will have a bearing on the sentencing of other separatists who face similar charges. 

Malik, 56, is the leader of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) which seeks independence for Jammu and Kashmir, including areas under Pakistan’s occupation and Gilgit-Baltistan. 

The conviction is a blow to the front as it comes months after the death of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a hardliner and a strong voice for separatist cause, in September last year. 

Parts of capital Srinagar observed a shutdown on Wednesday ahead of the verdict. There were also incidents of stone pelting in Maisuma where Malik’s house is located. 

The police, however, chased away the stone pelters and beefed up security in Srinagar to prevent a law and order situation in reaction to Malik’s sentencing.

Malik was arrested in February 2019 in the run up to the revocation of Article 370 by the NIA. 

The agency charged him under UAPA Sections 16 (terrorist act), 17 (raising funds for the terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy to commit a terrorist act), and 20 (being a member of a terrorist gang or organisation) and Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 124-A (sedition)of the IPC. 

He is also facing trial in the abduction of Rubiya Sayyed, daughter of former J&K home minister Mufti Muhammad Sayyed, in 1989 and the killing of Indian Air Force officials in Srinagar in 1990. 

The JKLF told the court that he has not committed any act of terrorism after he renounced militancy in 1994. Malik said if there is evidence of terrorism against him, he will quit politics.

He said he will not beg the court for mercy suggesting that he had no faith in the trial. He asked the court why he was given a passport to travel abroad and why seven former prime ministers interacted with him. 

Malik’s conviction has come at a time when the separatist leaders feel marginalised due to the actions of the BJP-led government at the Centre. Separatist leaders, including Malik, Shabir Shah, and Nayeem Khan, had been jailed in the run up to Article 370 repeal on charges of terror funding.   

Malik, one of the famed members of the HAJY—Hamid, Ashfaaq, Javid and Yasin—of the JKLF, was among the first groups of men to cross the Line of Control (LoC) for arms training after the 1987 elections. 

The NC and the Congress allegedly rigged the election to prevent the Muslim Mutahida Mahaz (Muslim United Front or MUF), a coalition of separatist parties, from coming to power.

Malik was among the many young men who had supported the MUF and campaigned for its candidate, Peer Muhammad Yoush Shah, who later became Syed Salahuddin, the supreme commander of Hizbul Mujahideen after militancy erupted in Kashmir.

Malik was arrested from a safe house in Srinagar in 1990. He was injured while trying to escape by jumping from the top floor of the safe house. He was released from jail in 1994 on bail. After his release, he declared a ceasefire and announced that the JKLF would pursue non-violent means to fight for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. He was expelled from the JKLF by its patron, Amanullah Khan, for his ceasefire announcement. However, due to the massive support he had enjoyed in the JKLF, he took over the leadership of the group.

In 2001, he was allowed to travel to the US for medical treatment by the Centre.

Malik was also part of the group of separatists, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Professor Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone and Molvi Abass Ansari to travel to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Pakistan.

In 2009, he married Mushaal Mullick, a Pakistani citizen and an alumnus of the London School of Economics (LSE). The couple has a daughter Raziya Sultana. She lives with her mother in Pakistan.

Malik was one of the seven members of the Hurriyat Conference. The Hurriyat later split into two factions led by Geelani and Mirwaiz. Malik went his own way. The JKLF has support from PoK and Kashmiri diaspora in Britain, most of them from PoK. 

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