The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader, Yasin Malik, was sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2017 terror funding case.
On May 25, Wednesday, JKLF leader Yasin Malik was found guilty in several anti-national, terrorist activities. A special court sentenced the separatist to life imprisonment and imposed various fines under terror funding and many other crimes.
The Delhi court has charged him under various sections of the IPC, including the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2019 (UAPA). The National Investigation Agency (NIA) court mentioned the fact that the crimes committed were severe, and considering the seriousness of the activities, the punishments are relentless. The NIA also mentioned that the criminal activities were performed secretly under a peaceful movement.
Sections Imposed On Yasin Malik
Yasin Malik is charged under Section 121B and 121 of the IPC for waging or attempting to wage a war.
Further, under Section 121A, he is sentenced to life imprisonment for conspiring to commit offences. He is also charged with a fine of Rs 10,000.
The special court has held him under Section 13 of the UAPA, which punishes him for conducting unlawful activities. Section 15 of the UAPA has also been imposed on him, for conducting terrorist activities with intent to threaten unity, integrity, security, or sovereignty of the country.
Most importantly, Yasin Malik is charged under Section 17 of the UAPA, which deals with the punishment for funding terrorist activities. The court said, “Financing is the backbone of any activity, including terror activities. In my opinion, it is high time, that we must consider terror funding one of the gravest crimes and further, these crimes must be severely punished.”
The NIA has punished Malik under Section 18 of the UAPA, which punishes the criminal for recurring person or persons to conduct terror acts. Additionally, Section 20 imposed on him deals with the punishment for being a part of a terrorist organisation. Section 38 and 39 punish Malik for offences related to the membership of a terrorist organisation, and offences related to supporting a terrorist organisation.
The court stated that all the punishments will continue simultaneously.
Yasin Malik’s Argument
During the proceedings, Yasin Malik countered the accusations raised against him by saying that he was provided a passport by Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government. He questioned that if he is a criminal, why would the past government give him a passport to travel the world and spread his word?
For a very long time, Malik has claimed that he follows the ideologies of Mahatma Gandhi. He said that in 1994, he gave up arms, and since then, he is following non-violence in Kashmir. He also stated that he took up arms 30 years back because the Indian government was not allowing them to contest peaceful protests. After the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990, he was kept under arrest between 1991 and 1994 in Mehrauli jail.
Yasin Malik is a very powerful leader in Kashmir. The Kashmiri youth listen to him and follow him, as they believe that he could bring ‘azadi’ in Kashmir. Malik’s sentencing has resulted in riots and his supporters raising anti-national slogans. Some of his followers are contesting protests outside his residence and shouting anti-national, communal slogans.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police has arrested 10 people who were found sloganeering outside Malik’s house. They are also charged for stone-pelting outside his residence. Police authorities have stated, “Raids during midnight led to the arrests of these 10 people. The main accused is also arrested.”
Police officials also state that before announcing the verdict of Yasin Malik’s punishment, people started protesting violently outside his residence. To control the stone-pelting mob, the police forces had to use teargas, smoke shells, and batons.
Why Not Death Penalty?
Several people have questioned why the court has imposed some fines and lifetime imprisonment, and not the death penalty. This is especially because Yasin Malik is a prominent leader of the JKLF, an organisation that was held responsible for the Pulwama attack on the Indian Army. The organisation was banned after the attack. Malik is accused of many other heinous crimes in relation to the genocide of the minority community in Kashmir.
During the trial, the NIA prosecutor also asked for a death sentence for Malik. He stated that Yasin Malik’s acts have led to a long time of unrest in Kashmir Valley, and that under his influence and support, several unlawful terrorist activities have taken place. He added that Malik is responsible for loss of many lives and damage to properties in Kashmir.
However, an impartial advisor asked for minimum punishment for Yasin Malik. He stated the reason as, during his confinement, Malik has not involved himself in any terror activities for which he was accused. Further, Yasin Malik has voluntarily pleaded guilty of his crimes. Malik has also stated that following 1994’s ceasefire, he pledged to follow the Gandhian path of non-violence.
The special court has stated that the crimes conducted by the accused are very serious in nature. It intensifies the seriousness of the activities as they were conducted under influences and assistance of foreign powers, and the activities are considered terrorist activities. Moreover, the accused intended to forcefully secede Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India. It noted that the convict also does not seem to follow the Gandhian way of non-violence. The court further stated that even though past governments had provided him a platform to put forth his views, he betrayed their good intentions and continued his false activities. Thus, the convict cannot be given death penalty, but he is sentenced for lifetime imprisonment.
Political Influencers On Yasin Malik’s Verdict
Yasin Malik is considered a freedom fighter by many politicians. During the previous terms of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister of India, Malik had the opportunity he desired to put forth his ideologies regarding the Kashmir issue. However, the opportunity provided to him was not fruitful to the Indian government, and the situation remained chaotic in Kashmir.
There are many other political leaders who see Yasin Malik as a struggler. The People’s Democratic Party chief, and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, has made another controversial statement. Speaking to the media, Mufti said that the Kashmir issue cannot be resolved by India’s muscular policy. She added that many people in Kashmir have been hanged and many are sentenced to life imprisonment, however, this has not helped in resolving the issue… with the course of time, it has only escalated. Mufti warned that there will be major consequences if India does not control its tough policies.
On the other hand, the newly elected government in Pakistan stands with Yasin Malik through his “difficult times”. The new Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif said that today marks a black day in the Indian judicial system. He said that India can surely arrest Yasin Malik but cannot control the wave of freedom he has instilled in the hearts of Kashmiris. Earlier, both the houses of Pakistan’s Parliament condemned the punishment of Yasin Malik. The houses unanimously adopted a resolution that condemned the judgement passed by the Indian judiciary regarding Yasin Malik’s crimes.
Furthermore, former cricket captain of Pakistan, Shahid Afreedi posted on Twitter, “India’s continued attempts to silence critical voices against its blatant human right abuses are futile. Fabricated charges against Yasin Malik will not put a hold to Kashmir’s struggle to freedom. Urging the UN to take notice of unfair & illegal trails (trials) against Kashmir leaders.”