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Key Takeaways

  • An overview of the entire Kashmir Terror Funding matter in which Yasin Malik was accused along with some others.
  • The contentions of both the parties and the rationale behind the decision of the NIA Court in the concerned matter.
  • Charges under which Yasin Malik was given a sentence of life imprisonment in the terror funding case for orchestrating violence in the Kashmir Valley.

Introduction

The NIA court in Delhi convicted the head of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Yasin Malik for the alleged terrorism and secessionist activities in Kashmir Valley in the year 2016-17. He was arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA) in 2019 in connection with a terror funding case. He pleaded guilty to all the charges before the NIA Court. He was charged under Section 18 (Conspiracy to commit a terrorist act) and Section 20 (being a member of a terrorist gang or organization) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) along with Section 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 124 A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Malik had been accused of several other offenses including murder, riots, the killing of four Indian Air Force personnel, abduction, stone-pelting, etc. This case had connections with 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 also said to have transferred the funds via financial conduits (hawala) and directed the militants to spread unrest throughout the Kashmir Valley instead of organizing the Football tournament. Not only Pakistan, but several other foreign countries also used to send funds to Yasin Malik via “hawala channels” to initiate insurgency in the Kashmir Valley.

What Did the NIA Court Say Over the Matter?

Yasin Malik told the Hon’ble Court that he had given up violence in 1994 itself and declared that he would follow the peaceful path of Mahatma Gandhi and engage in the non-violent political struggle. However, the NIA Court responded to this statement and said that he could not claim to be a follower of Gandhi as he did not condemn the violence in the Kashmir Valley. Mahatma Gandhi withdrew his Non-Cooperation Movement soon after the large-scale violence at Chauri Chaura but Yasin Malik despite the huge violence in the Valley; neither condemned it nor withdrew his calendar of protest in Kashmir that kept on causing agitation among the people.

Yasin Malik also contended that there was no evidence available against him for supporting the terrorist organizations and receiving funds to spread terror in Kashmir in the last 28 years. He also tried to support his contentions by bringing the facts before the Court that since he met many former Prime Ministers of India and had contact with them and also, the government cannot be considered a fool for providing a political platform to a terrorist; therefore he cannot be proven guilty of Kashmir terror funding. He also stated that as he was arrested immediately after Burhan Wani’s death, he could not have engaged in violent protests and terrorist activities of which the NIA Court accuse him.

Senior Public Prosecutor Neel Kamal argued that since Malik chose to wage war against India, a message is required to be sent to society that no leniency will be shown in such cases. He asked the Court to grant the death penalty to Malik as the convict was responsible for “genocide and exodus of Kashmiri Pandits” and was a hardcore criminal who under any circumstances had no chance of reformation. To this contention, the NIA Court provided that since the case does not fall under the rarest of the rare category, the death sentence cannot be granted, and hence, NIA’s plea was rejected.

However, the Additional Sessions Judge Parveen Singh said that the crimes for which Malik was convicted were all serious in nature and were “intended to strike at the heart of the idea of India and to forcefully secede J&K from Union of India.”

The court further went on to say that the crime becomes even more serious because it was committed with the assistance or involvement of foreign powers and terrorists. Also, since it was committed behind the smokescreen of an alleged peaceful political movement, its seriousness gets further increased.

Akhand Pratap Singh, who was appointed as amicus curiae, contended on behalf of the accused that, as Malik had pleaded guilty, therefore, it could be inferred that he was willing to reform.

Charges Against Yasin Malik

Yasin Malik, in the recent judgment, was “sentenced to life imprisonment” for two offenses under Section 121 (waging war against the Government of India) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and Section 17 (raising funds for the terrorist act) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). The NIA Court also awarded a 10-years jail term for his offense each under the Sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy) and 121 A (conspiracy to wage war against the Government of India) of IPC; and Section 15 (terrorism), Section 18 (conspiracy for terrorism) and Section 20 (being member of terror organization) of UAPA. The Court also granted 5-years jail term each under Section 13 (the unlawful act), Section 38 (for an offense related to membership of terrorism), and Section 39 (for the support given to terrorism) of the UAPA. All these sentences granted by the NIA Court will run concurrently. The Court held that Yasin Malik had set up an elaborate structure and an entire mechanism across the world to raise funds to carry out terrorist activities in Jammu & Kashmir in the name of the “freedom struggle”.

Conclusion

It took a long time but the justice has been finally delivered. Yasin Malik’s case is decades old and at last when he was granted life imprisonment; it triggered a spontaneous shut down of markets in Srinagar. Mobile internet was also suspended as a precautionary measure in Kashmir Valley. People’s Democratic Party chief, Mehbooba Mufti opined that the Kashmir issue was a political one and therefore the muscular policy adopted would have a negative impact on the prevailing situation and would never put an end to the bloodshed in Kashmir. Other separatist groups in Kashmir along with Pakistan, also condemned the judgment passed against Yasin Malik and said it was unfortunate. The statements and opinions of the Kashmiri people and the political leaders still indicate that the war has yet not ended. One Yasin Malik is sentenced to life imprisonment but there are still many who are free and are consistently conspiring against our country.


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