Yassin Malik, a separatist leader from Jammu and Kashmir, has been sentenced to life in prison on two counts of financing terrorism and declaring war on the country. The sentence was announced on Wednesday in a special court of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Delhi. The security forces have been keeping a close watch on the Valley since this morning. Mobile-internet is kept off.
The case was filed by the NIA in 2017. Charge sheets have since been filed against many. Yassin Malik, head of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), has been charged under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the investigating agency claimed. Malik told the court on May 10 that he would not oppose the charges against him. On May 19, Special NIA Judge Praveen Singh convicted him. Wednesday was the day of the sentencing. There was a heavy police cordon on the court premises. The security of the capital was tightened.
The NIA has demanded Malik’s death sentence by blaming him for the departure of Kashmiris from the country. Malik’s lawyer said he was leaving the matter to the court’s decision. Malik claimed that he had not been involved in any terrorist activities since he laid down his arms in 1994. Surprisingly, according to him, since then he has ‘followed the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi’. But the court discovered that this Gandhism couldn’t be taken with straight face. Malik asserted that in this regard, if the accusations of terrorism is proved against him, he is ready to face the death sentence. Court-appointed lawyer Akhand Pratap Singh pleaded for a minimum sentence of life imprisonment.
The judge sentenced Malik to life imprisonment and fined him Rs 10 lakh in two cases. In addition, in other cases, he has been sentenced to various terms of imprisonment and fines in different ways. All punishments will apply simultaneously.
Some areas of Jammu and Kashmir have been closed since Wednesday morning. Most of the shops in and around Yassin’s home in Maisuma were shut down. Many women gathered in front of Yassin’s house and chanted slogans. Although public transport was normal, there were less passengers. Attendance at government offices was lower than on other days. The roads were surrounded by paramilitary security.
Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilal Bhutto Zardari has approached UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet seeking pressure on India to release Yassin. Yesterday, he sent a letter drawing the attention of the international community to the situation in Kashmir. Following the court ruling, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif tweeted that it was a “black day for Indian democracy and justice.”
Malik currently lives alone in a ward of Jail No. 7 in Tihar, Delhi. Prison authorities sat in a meeting soon after the sentence was announced. It has been informed that he will be closely monitored by the camera. No decision has yet been made on the transfer to another ward or jail.