Yasin Malik sentenced to life imprisonment in terror funding case
The National Investigation Agency on Wednesday sentenced Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik to life imprisonment in a terror funding case. Two life sentences and 10 years of rigorous imprisonment in 10 offenses have been awarded. All sentences will run concurrently. A monetary penalty of Rs. 10 lakh has also been levied. The court had on May 19 convicted Malik after he pleaded guilty.
Malik had said in the court that he followed Mahatma Gandhi's principles ever since he gave up arms in 1994. "I have been doing non-violent politics in Kashmir ever since," he said. "I was arrested within 30 minutes of Burhan Wani's encounter. Atal Bihari Vajpayee allotted me a passport and India allowed me to make a statement because I wasn't a criminal," Malik added.
To note, parts of Srinagar observed a spontaneous shutdown on Wednesday ahead of the court's verdict. Most of the shops and businesses in Maisuma and adjoining areas, including Lal Chowk, were shut. Shops in some areas of the old city were also shut. Public transport was, however, plying normally. There was a heavy security deployment in the city to avoid any untoward situation.
On May 11, Malik had pleaded guilty to all the charges of the UAPA and IPC sections for criminal conspiracy, including terrorist acts, raising funds for a terrorist act, conspiracy to commit a terrorist act, and being a member of a terrorist gang or organization. Since Malik didn't hire a lawyer, the court-appointed amicus curiae on Thursday confirmed that he wasn't contesting the charges.
Besides Malik, several other Kashmiri separatist leaders have been charged by the court. Among them are Shabbir Shah, Masarat Alam, former MLA Rashid Engineer, businessman Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, Bitta Karate, Aftab Ahmad Shah, Avatar Ahmad Shah, Naeem Khan, Bashir Ahmed Bhat alias Peer Saifullah, and others. The chargesheet also had charges against Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin.
In the order dated March 16, NIA Special Judge Praveen Singh had said, "The above analysis reflects that statements of witnesses and documentary evidence have connected almost all the accused with each other and to a common object of secession, to the commonality of means they were to use, their close association to terrorist/terrorist organizations under the guiding hand and funding of Pakistani establishment."
The case is related to the various terror outfits, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Hizbul-Mujahideen (HM), Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) backed by Islamic State, perpetrating terrorist and secessionist activities to disturb the stability of Jammu and Kashmir.