Wednesday June 29, 2022

Indian court sentences Yasin Malik to life imprisonment

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had sought the death penalty for Yasin Malik but the court awarded him two life imprisonments

By our correspondents
May 26, 2022
Chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Yasin Malik. Photo: Agencies
Chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Yasin Malik. Photo: Agencies

NEW DELHI/ISLAMABAD: An Indian court on Wednesday sentenced Kashmiri freedom fighter, Yasin Malik, to life imprisonment in a terror funding case, the country’s media reported.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had sought the death penalty for the Kashmiri leader and chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), but the court awarded him two life imprisonments.

The NIA court handed down two life sentences and five 10-year terms of rigorous imprisonment, which will run concurrently. Moreover, a penalty of INR1 million has also been slapped on the Kashmiri leader.

The Hurriyat leader was convicted in the terror-funding case last week on all the charges last Tuesday, including the ones under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Yasin had refused to contest the charges, including Section 16 (terrorist act), Section 17 (raising funds for a terrorist act), Section 18 (conspiracy to commit a terrorist act) and Section 20 (being a member of a terrorist gang or organisation) of the UAPA and Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 124-A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code.

The Indian government arrested the Hurriyat leader in 2019, the same year when the special status of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K) was revoked.

Malik’s wife Mushaal Hussein Mullick said the sentencing was illegitimate.“Verdict in minutes by Indian kangaroo court,” she wrote on Twitter. “The iconic leader will never surrender.”

In Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, police fired tear gas and pellets to disperse stone-pelting protesters outside Malik’s residence.Pakistan strongly condemned the Indian court’s decision to award life imprisonment to Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik, maintaining that it would further provide impetus to Kashmiris right to self-determination.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said, “today is a black day” for Indian democracy and its justice system, noting that despite the order, the idea of freedom Malik symbolises could never be imprisoned. “Life imprisonment for valiant freedom fighters will provide fresh impetus to Kashmiris’ right to self-determination,” the prime minister said in a condemnation tweet.

In a statement on Twitter, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari strongly condemned the unjust sentencing of the Hurriyat leader in a sham trial. “India can never silence Kashmiris’ voice for freedom and self-determination. Pakistan stands with Kashmiri brothers and sisters, and will continue to provide all possible support in their just struggle,” he added.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned the sentencing of Malik and noted that he is a hero of the struggle for the independence of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K). “Imprisonment and torture cannot break the resolve of Malik,” the former president said in a statement.

Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, in a statement, strongly condemned the life sentence awarded to Malik on fabricated charges. “Such oppressive tactics cannot dampen the spirit of people of Kashmir in their just struggle against the illegal Indian occupation. We stand with them in quest for self-determination as per UNSCRs,” he added.

Following the verdict, the Indian Charge d’Affaires in Islamabad was summoned to the Foreign Office to convey “Pakistan’s strongest condemnation and rejection of the mala fide conviction” of Malik.

The FO termed the case a “grossly suspicious and contrived case registered under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code (IPC), dating back to 2017, filed against him by the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA)”.

“The Indian Cd’A was conveyed the Government of Pakistan’s strong indignation over the highly reprehensible sentencing of Yasin Malik after his conviction on fabricated charges, denial of fair trial and inhuman incarceration despite his deteriorating health, in complete defiance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said the FO.

Islamabad highlighted that by implicating Malik in a concocted case and a one-sided trial, India has once again misused the judiciary in the outrageous execution of political vendetta against the Kashmiri leadership. “The abhorrent Indian attempts seeking to defile the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination as ‘terrorism’ only substantiate India’s deeply etched credentials as a ‘serial violator’ of human rights and usurper of the fundamental freedoms of the Kashmiris,” said the FO.

Meanwhile, Adviser to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Chaudhry Qamar Zaman Kaira also strongly condemned the Indian court’s verdict against Kashmiri separatist Yasin Malik.

He said that sentencing Yasin Malik to life imprisonment is a cruel act. “Today, human rights and justice have been murdered again in India. The whole process of Indian institutions and judiciary is very unfortunate, unjust and savage. Despite Yasin Malik’s long imprisonment, India failed to defeat his dedication. India has taken such reprehensible steps in the past too in the case of judicial killings of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat. Yasin Malik’s life sentence will not fulfill India’s intentions,” he said.

“Every institution of Modi’s extremist government is following the Hindutva ideology. Human and religious rights are being violated in India. Unarmed Kashmiri people are being martyred in extra-judicial incidents. Domiciles are being issued to non-state residents to change the demographics of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K). Indian state terrorism has failed to achieve its goals in the last 70 years. The international community should go beyond its personal interests and take practical steps to end Yasin Malik’s sentence,” he said.