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Explained: The Rubaiya Sayeed Abduction, The Trial In Court, And How It Played Out In Kashmir

Five Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front terrorists were freed to secure Rubaiya Sayeed's release.

Explained: The Rubaiya Sayeed Abduction, The Trial In Court, And How It Played Out In Kashmir
Rubaiya Sayeed with her father Mufti Mohammed after her release Twitter/indianhistorypics

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Jammu on Friday summoned Rubaiya Sayeed, the daughter of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and former Union minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, in the case related to her abduction in 1989. 

This is the first time that Rubaiya has been summoned in the case, who remained in captivity for five days in 1989 until five Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) terrorists were freed to secure her release. Her father Mufti Mohammed was the Union Home Minister at the time.

Rubaiya's abduction was one of the two key moments in Kashmir in late 1980s, with the other being the alleged rigged elections of 1987.  

Here we explain the abduction, the response, the investigation and the ongoing trial, and how the episode played out in Kashmir.

The abduction of Rubaiya Sayeed

Rubaiya Sayeed was abducted by armed terrorists on December 8, 1989 at around 3:45 pm in Srinagar, when she was returning to her home from Lal Ded Memorial Hospital where she was a medical intern. Her father Mufti Mohammed had taken over as the Union Home Minister just six days back.

The JKLF claimed the abduction and demanded the release of five terrorists for her release — Abdul Hamid Sheikh, Sher Khan, Noor Mohammad Kalwal, Altaf Ahemed and Javed Ahemed Jargar.

The terrorists were eventually released and Rubaiya was freed, despite opposition from the-then Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.

Lakhs of people took to streets

Reporters who have covered the aftermath of JKLF terrorists' release have described the scene in Kashmir as "great excitement" and "euphoria" as lakhs of people took to streets in support of militants and in opposition to India, where they raised anti-India slogans. 

Harinder Baweja wrote in Hindustan Times that the state government was absent and people had taken over and "the entire Valley was celebrating".

She wrote, "The Farooq Abdullah government in the state which had been forced to release five militants belonging to the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front was near absent. The administration was gripped by fear as it watched its people take to the streets—in the thousands, sometimes even in the lakhs—shouting slogans of ‘hum ky chahte, azadi’ (we want freedom) and ‘Jo kare khuda ka khauf, utha le Kalashnikov.’ (Those who fear God, should pick up the Kalashnikov.)"

Journalist Aasha Khosa told Rediff, "There was no sympathy for Rubaiya. The people were all with the militants."

She said the outburst on streets drove home the popular support for militancy. 

She told Rediff, "The kidnapping was a shock. The security personnel did not have a clue. Till then everyone was treating militancy as a joke. People used to say, 'hey, my cousin has become a militant, he has a gun now'. The Rubaiya episode changed all that. It made people realise that there was major trouble in Kashmir.

"When the militants were released, there was celebration all around. I have never seen so many people on the streets! They sang, danced and raised anti-India slogans."

Baweja wrote the incident as a tipping point, "The release also proved to be a tipping point that tilted the scales fairly and squarely in the direction of the armed struggle that had just reared its head in Jammu and Kashmir."

Centre allegedly forced J&K government

Chindu Sreedharan reported for Rediff, "Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah, fresh-returned from an abandoned foreign tour, was dead against giving in. But the Centre had more or less decided to free the militants."

Abdullah told Harinder Baweja in an interview that the Union government's delegation that came to Srinagar to secure Rubaiya's release had threatened dismissal of Abdullah's government. 

IK Gujral, Arif Mohammed Khan, and MK Narayanan were part of the delegation. The threat to dismiss the government was made by Gujral, as per Abdullah.

Baweja wrote, "I remember asking Farooq Abdullah if they said they would dismiss him as bluntly as that and he replied, 'Yes, straight to my face and I said, wonderful, if the Government of India wants to sink India, then go ahead and give it to me in writing.'"

Mufti Mohammed told her later that he regretted acting like a father in the situation than a leader.

"That is a guilt I will carry to my grave," Baweja quoted Mufti Mohammed as having told her. 

The abduction case in court

The CBI took over the case in 1990, but it remained in cold storage until it was revived in 2019 when Yasin Malik was arrested. 

Malik, who has been sentenced to life in a separate terror funding case, is also an accused in the case as he was involved in the abduction as a key JKLF figure.

Others charged in the case are Ali Mohammed Mir, Mohammed Zaman Mir, Iqbal Ahmad Gandroo, Javed Ahmad Mir, Mohammedd Rafiq Pahloo, Manzoor Ahmed Sofi, Wajahat Bashir, Mehraj-ud-Din Sheikh and Showkat Ahmad Bakshi.

During the investigation, accused Ali Mohammad Mir, Zaman Mir and Iqbal Gandroo voluntarily confessed before a magistrate about his role in the abduction. Besides, four others made confessional statements before CBI's Superintendent of Police. 

The 10 are among the two dozen accused named by the CBI in its chargesheet filed before the court. Among the others, top JKLF commanders Mohammad Rafiq Dar and Mushtaq Ahmad Lone are dead and 12 are absconding. 

Rubaiya has been summoned to court on July 15.

(With inputs from PTI)

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