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J&K Political Leaders Slam NIA’s Death Penalty Plea Against Yasin Malik

Anees Zargar |
The Delhi High Court issued notice to Yasin Malik days after the NIA filed the appeal for the death penalty.
In this Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2003 file photo, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yasin Malik being taken into preventive custody by police, in Srinagar. The Delhi High Court on Monday, May 29, 2023

In this Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2003 file photo, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Yasin Malik being taken into preventive custody by police, in Srinagar.  Image Courtesy: PTI

Srinagar: Prominent political figures in Kashmir, including Mehbooba Mufti, the President of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), and Altaf Bukhari, the President of the Apni Party, have criticised the National Investigation Agency's (NIA) appeal for the death penalty against separatist leader Yasin Malik. The political leaders have called for a reinvestigation of the case while expressing concern over the haste displayed by the NIA.

“In a democracy like India where even the assassins of a PM were pardoned, the case of a political prisoner like Yasin Malik must be reviewed and reconsidered. The new political ikhwan gleefully supporting his hanging are a grave threat to our collective rights,” Mehbooba Mufti tweeted. 

The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to Yasin Malik days after the NIA filed the appeal for the death penalty.

A division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh issued notice to Malik through the concerned Tihar Jail Superintendent and listed the matter for hearing on August 9, 2023. 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the NIA, submitted that Malik is responsible for the killing of four Indian Armed Forces (IAF) personnel at Rawalpora in Srinagar and the kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) founder and former Union home minister Mufti Sayeed. 

Mehta said it is a “rarest of rare case” and submitted that Malik is charged under Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code (waging war against the Government of India), which is punishable by death. 

The bench, however, questioned the agency on specific charges against Malik and those to which he had pleaded guilty. 

During the hearing, Mehta argued whether Osama Bin Laden would have been “tried and that he would have been permitted to plead guilty”. Justice Mridul, however replied that Malik’s case was different as bin Laden had never faced trial anywhere. 

“We can't compare this gentleman to Osama Bin Laden because he nowhere stood trial," he said. 

Malik, 57, was awarded life sentence last year in May after he pleaded guilty to charges in a 2017 case related to funding and aiding militancy and orchestration of large-scale protests in Jammu and Kashmir. He was among the first in Kashmir to have crossed over to Pakistan to receive arms training around 1989. After his return, he was arrested on August 8, 1990, as insurgency swept the region. 

He became the top leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), a Kashmiri nationalist outfit banned in 2019. That was much after he had announced a unilateral ceasefire in 1994 and claimed to walk in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi to advocate separatism through non-violent means.

Kashmir-based Parties express concern

The NIA’s move against Malik had evoked sharp reaction from Kashmir based parties some of whom termed it “deeply disturbing” for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Beside Mehbooba Mufti and Altaf Bukhari, Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC) leader Sajad Lone called the NIA’s plea on Malik “dangerous”. “Let you not be misled by fair weather Kashmir experts. Please — every situation has a short term and a long term. Let the short term enforced calm not blind you to the possible long term turbulence,” Lone said in a statement. 

Calling for peace, Lone argued that the people of Kashmir need oxygen from the rest of the country as they are gasping for political breath. “We cannot afford Kashmir being the oxygen for the political landscape in the rest of the country. Reminds me of Afzal Guroo and Congress’s hurry to execute him,” he added. 

The All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), led by the incarcerated Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, termed the development unfortunate. It stated that one after another, the authorities bring in such directives and decrees that appear to be a “deliberate attempt to provoke and intimidate people and add to their concerns and fears.”

The separatist group also appealed to the Government of India, all political parties, and the people of India to release all Kashmiri political prisoners and leaders, hundreds of youth, students, journalists, rights activists, traders and others lodged in jails in J&K and across India and send a message of conciliation, which will act as a catalyst for earning people’s trust and go a long way in resolving the conflict.

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