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Key Takeaways

  • Yasin Malik’s conviction in Jammu and Kashmir terror funding case.
  • Charges against Yasin Malik.
  • Involvement of JKLF in the case.
  • NIA Court’s decision in the matter.

Introduction

Head of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Yasin Malik was arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2019 in connection with a terror funding case that had been opened in the year 2017. The NIA Court Delhi convicted Yasin Malik in the alleged terrorism and secessionist activities in Kashmir Valley in the year 2016-17. He pleaded guilty to all the charges before the Court including the ones under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). He was charged with Section 18 (Conspiracy to commit a terrorist act) and Section 20 (being a member of a terrorist gang or organization) of UAPA along with Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 124 A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Malik had been accused of several offences including murder, riots, killing of four Indian Air Force personnel, abduction of Rubaiya Sayeed; daughter of the then Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, etc. The case also involves Pakistan-based Jama’at-ud-Da’wah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, who was the mastermind behind the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. The Pakistani High Commission is said to have transferred the funds via financial conduits and directed the militants to spread unrest throughout the Kashmir Valley. It was also found in the investigation that Yasin Malik used to get funds from the foreign countries via “hawala channels” to initiate insurgency in Kashmir.

Case Background

NIA v. Hafiz Muhammad Saeed & Ors.

The NIA in its FIR stated that Kashmiri separatists received funds from Hafiz Saeed of Lashkar-e- Taiba, Sayed Salahuddin of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, and Pakistan in order to incite trouble in the Valley through stone-pelting, strikes, protests, etc. Around 89 cases of stone-pelting were reported by NIA during the protests. Also, the protests, in which Burhan Wani was killed, caused death and injuries to the civilians and security forces in 2016. Several separatists were arrested by NIA in the furtherance of the case including Yasin Malik, Asiya Andrabi of Dukhtaran-e- Millat, and Shabir Shah of Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party.

In an interrogation, Malik revealed that he had played a prominent role in bringing together different groups or factions of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and had formed the Joint Resistance Leadership (JLR). The JLR was responsible for initiating the agitations in Kashmir Valley in 2016 by issuing “Protest Calendars” which resulted in an economic shutdown for around four months. During a raid at Malik’s home, a note signed by several terrorist organizations was found that instigated people to struggle for “Kashmiri freedom”.

There were several other pieces of evidence found at Malik’s place that indicated his close contact with the terrorist organizations worldwide. He not only received funds from Pakistan for inciting terror activities in Kashmir but also acquired properties worth Rs. 15 Crore in Pakistan. His wife, being a Pakistani national, was claimed to be in close contact with the Pakistani spy agency, the ISI.

The NIA Court ruled that it is prima facie established that Yasin Malik along with several others are the direct recipients of the terror funds from various sources and there existed a criminal conspiracy that led to massive scale violence in the Valley. The Court additionally stated that Yasin Malik had set up an entire structure to gather funds from all over the world in the name of a “freedom struggle” in order to carry out unlawful activities in Kashmir.

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF)

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front is a separatist organization that had been active in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Indian-administered Kashmir as well. The JKLF was initially established in the cities of the United Kingdom followed by the United States and other countries in Europe and the Middle East. Eventually, it established its branch in the Pakistani-Occupied territory of Kashmir in the year 1982 and then in the Indian-administered Kashmir Valley in the year 1987. The basic agenda of the Front was independent Kashmir which is free from both India and Pakistan. This organization, however, was banned in Kashmir Valley by the Indian Government under the anti-terror law.

Role of Yasin Malik in JKLF

JKLF was founded by Amanullah Khan and Maqbool Bhat in the year 1976, which established its offices in the Muzaffarabad region of Pakistan occupied by Kashmir (PoK), and later became a top militant group. After Malik returned from Pakistan with arms training, he joined JKLF and very soon became the leader of the Front. As per the reports of NIA, Malik is accused of his involvement in more than 65 criminal cases including murder, attempt to murder, rioting, sedition, and abduction. He is also accused of killing four Indian Air Force personnel in the early 1990s.He was arrested on August 6 1990 and as soon as he was released on bail in May 1994, he declared an indefinite ceasefire on behalf of JKLF and renounced violence.

There were several other charges against Malik including the receipt of funds from Pakistan, ISI, and UAE via various sham companies that were used to disguise the foreign remittances. Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, a Kashmiri businessman was majorly responsible for such transfer of funds to the separatist leaders in Kashmir.Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), and JKLF are alleged to have perpetrated violence in the Kashmir Valley with the support of ISI, Pakistan.

The Court after Yasin Malik’s conviction stated in its order that “I find that accused Yasin Malik has voluntarily and after due legal consultation, meaning thereby after fully, knowing the consequences of his plea, has pleaded guilty to the charges framed against him. His plea is accordingly accepted”.

Conclusion

Militancy in Jammu and Kashmir had been prevailing for the last four decades. Various terrorist organizations from different countries, especially Pakistan, have been supporting the militants in Kashmir to instigate people in the name of the “freedom struggle”. As a result, the people in the territory of Jammu and Kashmir have witnessed extreme violence and agitation for all these years. Many civilians along with the security force personnel have lost their lives and homes. The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir and their mass genocide is one of the consequences of separatist activities in the Valley. Terrorism can be dealt with better by striking its roots and therefore, the wheel of justice, just as in the case of Yasin Malik, needs to keep on moving. It took very long to deliver justice in the concerned case, which however needs to be reduced by undergoing speedy trials in such heinous criminal cases.


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