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Separatist Yasin Malik Goes On Hunder Strike In Tihar Jail, Alleges Unfair Trial

Yasin Malik was convicted in a terror funding case in May. He faces many other cases of murder, attempt to murder, rioting and sedition.

Separatist Yasin Malik Goes On Hunder Strike In Tihar Jail, Alleges Unfair Trial
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Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik has gone on a hunger strike in Delhi's Tihar Jail over the government's lack of response on his plea to physically appear in a case.

The banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front's (JKLF) chief Malik is an accused in the abduction to Rubaiya Sayeed. He is on hunger strike after the government did not respond to his plea that he be allowed to physically appear in a Jammu court hearing the case, officials said on Saturday, adding that he began the strike on Friday.

Malik, 56, head of the banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), began his indefinite strike on Friday as he had threatened to earlier this month, they said.

Rubaiya was abducted in 1989 by terrorists. Malik is accused to be among the JKLF terrorists who abducted her. Rubaiya appeared in a court on July 15 and identified Malik and three others as her abductors.

"This is the person and his name is Yasin Malik. He was the man who threatened me that he would drag me out of the minibus if I refused to follow their diktat," said Rubaiya to the judge.

Rubaiya is the daughter of former J&K Chief Minister and Union minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. She was in captivity for five days. She was freed after five JKLF terrorists were released.

On Friday morning, Malik refused to eat anything despite repeated requests by jail authorities, the officials said. His health is being closely monitored.

Appearing before a special CBI judge through video conference, Malik had said he wanted to appear physically in the case related to the abduction of Rubaiya. He informed the court that he had written a letter to the government seeking his transfer to a Jammu jail so he could appear physically in the case and contest the allegations against him. 

Malik had said he would like to personally cross-examine all the prosecution witnesses in the case and would wait for a government nod till July 22. If not, he would sit on an indefinite hunger strike inside the jail.

Malik began his protest when he received no information from the government about his plea to shift him to any prison in Jammu, the officials said.              

Malik was arrested in early 2019 in a 2017 terror-funding case registered by National Investigation Agency (NIA). Malik had pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced by a special NIA court in Delhi in May.            

In January 2021, the CBI, with help from special public prosecutors Monika Kohli and SK Bhat, framed charges against 10 people, including Malik, in Rubaiya's abduction case that became one of the turning points in the Valley's volatile history.

After the release of the five JKLF members, terror groups started rearing their heads. There were widespread celebration upon the release of JKLF terrorists, according to reporters who covered Kashmir at the time. They have described the scene in Kashmir as "great excitement" and "euphoria" as lakhs of people took to streets in support of terrorists 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 News, "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 News, "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 called the incident as a tipping point. She wrote, "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."

The other turning point was the allegedly rigged Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections of 1987, following which several youth picked up arms after being disgruntled with electoral politics. Malik himself was one of the people who had participated in 1987 polls.

Malik was the leader of Islamic Students League, which supported Muslim United Front (MUF) that was contesting against the National Conference (NC)-Congress alliance. Malik became the polling agent of MUF candidate Mohammad Yusuf Shah.  

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Shah lost the elections that were allegedly rigged in favour of the NC-Congress coalition. He moved to armed movement and went on to take up the name of Sayeed Salahuddin to become the leader of terrorist organisation Hizbul Mujahideen. Malik would go on to become the leader of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which was set up in the United Kingdom by Amanullah Khan in 1977, as per the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

(With PTI inputs)

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