The National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court based at Delhi has recently pronounced life imprisonment to the infamous terrorist and separatist leader Mohammad Yasin Malik. The conviction and the subsequent sentencing of this self-declared chairman of a banned terrorist organization, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) came in a case registered by the NIA in 2017, related to terrorism and secessionist activities in the Kashmir valley. The case also involved an investigation into the collection of funds from all possible sources including the Hawala network. After conducting a thorough investigation in this case, and while filing the charge sheet in the year 2018, the NIA brought to light the role played by Hurriyat Conference through evidence like the funds collected by its leaders and their associates under the guise of providing technical/ medical education to Kashmiri students in Pakistan. The same money was routed to finance terrorism and terror-related activities in the valley. Moreover, it surfaced that by incentivising militants through finances, the Hurriyat was trying to keep the pot boiling in the JK and thereby waging a war against India. Thus, a “trigon” of Hurriyat Conference, Pakistan, and terrorist organizations was operative in an organized manner to destabilise the Country. However, the fourth angle of mainstream white-collar leaders is yet to be exposed. For a long time, this “quadrant” has been hand in glove in promoting enmity and waging an undeclared war against the Union of India. In February 2019, the NIA raided the houses of Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah, Mohammad Ashraf Khan, Masarat Alam, Zafar Akbar Bhat, Naseem Gilani, son of Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Asiya Andrabi, etc. Eighteen separatist leaders were arrested after several incriminating material and evidence were seized from their premise, during the raids. Undoubtedly, Yasin Malik is the most vicious and evil face of the terror and separatist cocktail, and his conviction is just a tip of the iceberg, other terrorists and separatists are also expected to be punished on the same lines. It’s time that the files of the horrific killings of non-Muslim Kashmiris should be opened. The least we can do as a society is to face these truths, however, inconvenient they might be and tell the world how Hindus and Sikhs have suffered immensely facing genocides and pogroms in Jammu & Kashmir. A decisive battle against terror can only be fought by uncovering the ‘Kashmir Files’ that have been gathering dust for decades and a prompt action against the perpetrators should be taken.
Though life imprisonment for Yasin Malik, who proclaimed to turn ‘Gandhiwadi’ from a dreaded terrorist, is a welcome step, however it is worrisome that terrorists and separatists like him and many others are not being punished in cases pending for decades. Yasin Malik alone has more than 65 criminal cases pending against him in different police stations across the country. Some of these cases are more than 35 years old. These cases include the kidnapping of Rubia Sayeed, the younger daughter of the then Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in December 1989, the brutal murder of Squadron Leader Ravi Khanna and four of his fellow Air Force officers on 25 January 1990, disruption of the 1983 India-West Indies cricket match by digging of cricket pitch, and the heinous killings of hundreds of innocent non-Muslim Kashmiris between 1989 and 1994 is particularly noteworthy. Furthermore, the reaction of Mrs. Nirmal Khanna, wife of Squadron Leader Ravi Khanna, on Yasin Malik’s life imprisonment is significant. She said that ‘Malik is yet to be punished for his sins, this is just the beginning’. Expressing her helplessness and displeasure over the delay in getting justice, she also called for early death penalty for him, his associates and the ‘Jaichands’ who became his aides. This statement of Nirmal Khanna is sufficient to prove that the fight against terror is so far circumspect. From a young woman fighting for justice for her late husband she has grown old, but the killer roamed freely for the past 32 years. To reach the end of the war on terror, it is pertinent to be disclosed why and on whose behest, Yasin Malik was released in 1994, despite his involvement in number of heinous terrorist/criminal incidents? Further, the white collar Jaichands who have become the safeguards of terrorists should also be exposed.
Time and again links between terrorists/separatists with mainstream politicians and secular-liberal human rights activists should also be checked. Yasin Malik sentencing is a direct consequence of the initiatives taken by the central government to break the back of terrorism operating in the valley. Otherwise, the history of being released on bail after being arrested would have been repeated this time too and Yasin Malik and his accomplices would have been hollowing out the foundations of the country by committing terrorist activities and then conveniently being released on bail!
The pace of Indian judicial process is extremely slow and agonizing. Resourceful criminals often take advantage of this situation. Vigilantism thrives. Often the oppressed gets more ‘punishment’ than the criminal. The quintessential requirement in the administration of criminal justice is the necessity of a speedy trial. At least cases related to anti-national activities like terrorism should be disposed of at a rapid pace. They should be tried in special courts/fast track courts instead of ordinary courts; so that by giving appropriate and time-bound punishment to the killers of innocent civilians, the appropriate message can be given to their patrons, companions, and the society. Despite his terror links and his involvement in the genocide of non-muslims of the valley, the erstwhile governments and the left-liberal media establishment have often tried to portray Yasin Malik as a peace icon and messiah of the Kashmiris. The ‘secular-liberal’ intelligentsia has time and again attempted to whitewash the crimes committed by Yasin Malik by treating him with kid-gloves and often considering him to be a legitimate stakeholder in the Kashmir peace process. It is noteworthy that Yasin Malik was among the Kashmiri delegation to meet the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and was also among those who went to Pakistan by ‘Caravan-e-Aman’ bus service started in April 2005. He was even sent to America to talk on the ‘Kashmir problem’. These terrorist separatists, who became the coerced stakeholders of the Kashmir problem, talked about India’s unity, integrity and sovereignty in Delhi, preached secularism, and independence in Jammu and on reaching Srinagar, they parroted the Pak stand. These anti-nationals have thrived on foreign money, and have only sowed, and reaped the crops of terror and bloodshed over the years. In 2008, to the protest allotment of 800 kanals forest land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), after the encounter of 3 terrorists in 2010 and encounter of Burhan Wani in 2016 they left no stone unturned to malign India’s image on international forums, and at the same time wreaked havoc in the valley by orchestrating violent protest and encouraged stone-pelting, sabotage, use of arson, bomb-guns, etc. These people are not only enemies of India but also of peace and progress in general. Terrorism can be nipped in the bud by prosecuting and punishing the perpetrators of terrorist offence, preventing and countering radicalisation and violent extremism, dismantling terrorist networks and combatting their financing only then prosperity can be brought in Jammu and Kashmir.
The promising movement has been seen in this direction under the present central dispensation who have demonstrated tremendous grit and determination to combat the menace. However, Gupkar gang’s reaction to Yasin Malik’s sentence exposes their true face and intentions. The spokesman of Gupkar gang, Yusuf Tarigami said that Malik’s Life sentence would further fuel more alienation and separatist feelings in the valley and termed it as unfortunate. Mehbooba Mufti (the biggest advocate and spokesperson of the separatists) contended that the Kashmir issue cannot be resolved by India’s muscular policy. She added that many people in Kashmir have been hanged and many are sentenced to life imprisonment, however, this has not helped in resolving the issue… with the course of time, it has only escalated. Her reference was to the execution of Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru. Mehbooba Mufti seems to have lost the plot after being ousted from power. Her vision has also deteriorated with time. She needs to get her sight fixed before accessing the current situation in the valley, which is fast improving, contrary to what has been projected by her time and again. Now water and not blood, flows in the rivers Jhelum and Tawi. After decades, Kashmir is witnessing a record footfall of tourists this year. As Guns start to fall silent, tourism booms in Kashmir. Also, the reforms and positive changes that took place post August 2019 in the valley, have left her and her gang restless and distraught. Thus, she tries to mislead the local people and the international society by making outrageous statements from time to time. Further, she has a habit of courting controversies one after another to remain in the limelight.
One of the key features of Narendra Modi’s era as Prime Minister is the policy of zero toleranc towards terrorism. Decisive initiatives were undertaken to reduce the capability of the terrorists and their supporters and sympathisers, as also to dominate the battle of perception and beliefs. All their financial sources have been hermetically sealed. Most of the separatists are jailed and perpetrators eliminated. Furthermore, the hired stone pelters and miscreants have also been clamped down. People involved in such activities are no longer being given ‘clearance’ by the police for passports and jobs. Government servants engaged in anti-India activities and those who have returned ‘after studying’ from Pakistan, are also being thoroughly investigated and if required sent off. India’s recent actions stand out for their extraordinary boldness and calculated risk against the scourge of terrorism. India has shown a firmness seldom seen since independence. As a result, a new beginning has been made in Kashmir, ending panic, terrorism, fear, corruption, nepotism and new era of peace, development, prosperity, and coexistence has begun.
The author is Dean, Students’Welfare, Central University of Jammu.