India sentences Kashmir Independence Leader Yasin Malik to life imprisonment

A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in the Indian capital New Delhi has sentenced Kashmiri independence leader Yasin Malik to life imprisonment in “terror” funding case. The court prosecutor had sought the death penalty for Malik.

Malik, one of Indian-administered Kashmir’s prominent independence leaders, is the chief of now banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). The group renounced violence in 1994.

Malik, 56, last week was convicted of “terrorist” acts, including illegally raising funds, membership in a terrorist organisation, criminal conspiracy, and sedition.

The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a coalition of pro-India parties in the region, termed Malik’s life imprisonment as “unfortunate”. “Life imprisonment given to Yasin Malik is unfortunate and a setback to the efforts for peace. We are afraid that this will further compound the uncertainties in the region and will only fuel more alienation and separatist feelings,” the group said in a statement. The “… court has delivered its verdict but not justice,” the statement said.

The mobile internet services in some parts of the region’s main city of Srinagar were suspended soon after the verdict was announced by the anti-terrorism court based in the Indian capital New Delhi.

During the trial, which Malik’s family and lawyers alleged was not fair, the Kashmiri leader rejected the charges and said he was a freedom fighter. A statement released by the JKLF after Malik’s conviction last week said charges levelled against him were “concocted, fabricated and politically motivated”.Bottom of Form “If seeking aazadi (freedom) is a crime, then I am ready to accept this crime and its consequences,” the statement quoted Malik as telling the judge.

The move was followed by months of military and communications lockdown in the region and arrests of major political and rebel leaders. In several areas of the disputed region’s main city of Srinagar, shopkeepers downed their shutters before the pronouncement of the sentencing against Malik.

Dozens of women protested at Malik’s home in Maisuma in advance of the verdict, shouting slogans: “Ye tamasha nahi hai, ye maatam sahi hai” (This is not a spectacle, this grief is a reality).

Malik was arrested by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a “terror-funding case” shortly after the JKLF was banned in 2019.

The agency charged him with receiving funds “from Pakistan to carry out terrorist activities and stone-pelting during the Kashmir unrest, especially in 2010 and 2016”.

In August the same year, New Delhi scrapped the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir and unilaterally divided the country’s only Muslim-majority region into two federally controlled territories.

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