New Delhi: A special NIA court Wednesday awarded life imprisonment to Kashmiri separatist Yasin Malik in a 2017 terror-funding case. The sentence came a week after his conviction. Malik had pleaded guilty to all charges, including those under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
On 19 May, days after Malik had pled guilty, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front’s (JKLF) leader had been convicted by a special NIA court and asked to file an affidavit on his income and assets. The court had also directed the agency to assess his financial situation.
On Wednesday noon, the Kashmiri separatist leader walked into the Patiala House Court complex amid tight security, dressed in a neat dark blue kurta, matching mask, black jeans and a pair of slippers. He carried a file in his hand.
He had been charged under the UAPA for committing a terrorist act, raising funds for terrorism, being a member of a terrorist group and part of a criminal conspiracy, and sedition.
The prosecution (NIA) argued that 56-year-old Malik should be awarded death penalty, because his actions affected society and created disturbances in the Valley and an example must be set. The NIA also said that Malik was a “hardcore criminal” and didn’t regret his path. The agency listed out the charges against him, saying he orchestrated an elaborate structure for terror activities in the name of freedom struggle.
The NIA further stated that Malik spearheaded the protests in 2016 by issuing “Protest Calendars” — following the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July that year — and said that 89 cases of stone-pelting were reported during those agitations.
In turn, the amicus curiae (friend of the court) advocate Akhand Pratap Singh argued that the judgement must keep into account the age of the accused, his mental state, economic condition, social background and whether he was instigated by another accused. Singh also sought minimum sentencing (life imprisonment) under IPC 121 (waging war against or abetting waging of war, against the Government of India).
“Don’t want charity”
“Dil khol ke (with an open heart).. I don’t want anything in charity” — Malik told the court hours before the verdict was announced.
He claimed that since 1994, after the announcement of the ceasefire, he hasn’t indulged in terror activities and had engaged only in non-violent political struggle.
“I have followed the principles of Mahatma Gandhi,” he told the court, challenging the Indian Intelligence agencies to prove if he has indulged in any form of terror activities — providing hideouts or logistical aid in the last 28 years.
“I have interacted with seven prime ministers — V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, Deve Gowda, I.K. Gujral, P.V. Narashima Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. Vajpayee allotted me a passport and I was allowed to make a statement because I wasn’t a criminal,” he added.
The NIA in 2019 had arrested Malik in connection to a terror funding case, along with a dozen other people. A case was subsequently lodged against members of terror organisations such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat and others. According to the agency, the separatist leader was involved in raising, receiving and collecting funds through hawala channels for funding terror activities in the Valley.
Earlier in March this year, a Delhi court had ordered the framing of charges against the accused, saying they were part of a criminal conspiracy to cause large-scale protests leading to violence in the country.
(Edited by Monami Gogoi)