Indian court awards life imprisonment to Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik

ISLAMABAD, May 25 (APP): A New Delhi court on Wednesday awarded life imprisonment to Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik.

Special Judge of India’s notorious National Investigation Agency (NIA), Praveen Singh, officially convicted Yasin Malik on May 19 in cases registered against him over three decades ago and fixed the hearing for Wednesday to announce the quantum of the sentence. 

The National Investigation Agency had demanded the maximum punishment, the death penalty, while the defence pleaded for life imprisonment, Hindustan Times reported. 

“Two life sentences and five punishments of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment each have been awarded. All sentences are to run concurrently. A monetary penalty of over ₹ 10 lakh has also been levied,” lawyer Umesh Sharma said. Different prison sentences and fines have been awarded for different cases. 

According to the India daily, the Kashmiri leader had submitted that he would not “beg” for mercy, and that court could decide at its discretion.

Yasin Malik maintained that if Indian Intelligence could prove that he had been involved in any terrorist activity or violence in 28 years, then he would retire from politics, and will also accept the hanging.

Last week, the Hurriyat leader was convicted by an Indian court in a “terrorism-related case” after he protested against the charges levelled against him, saying he is a freedom fighter.

“Terrorism-related charges levelled against me are concocted, fabricated and politically motivated,” his organisation, the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, cited him as telling the court.

“If seeking Azadi (freedom) is a crime, then I am ready to accept this crime and its consequences,” he told the judge.

Reacting to the Indian court verdict, Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif called it a “black day for Indian democracy and its justice system.”

He said India could imprison Yasin Malik physically but it could never imprison idea of freedom he symbolises.

“Life imprisonment for valiant freedom fighter will provide fresh impetus to Kashmiris’ right to self-determination,” the prime minister remarked.

Malik’s wife Mushaal Hussein Mullick said the sentencing was illegitimate. “Verdict in minutes by Indian kangaroo court,” she wrote on Twitter. “The iconic leader will never surrender.”

Earlier, the Indian Charge d’ Affaires (Cd’A) was called to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and handed over a demarche conveying Pakistan’s strong condemnation on the framing of fabricated charges against Malik, who is currently imprisoned at Tihar jail by the Indian authorities.

According to the FO spokesperson, the Indian diplomat was conveyed Pakistan’s grave concern that in a bid to suppress the voice of the indigenous Kashmiri leadership, the Indian government had resorted to implicating them in fictitious and motivated cases.

The Indian side was also conveyed Pakistan’s deep concern over Malik’s incarceration in Tihar Jail since 2019 under inhuman conditions. The brutal treatment meted out to him despite his chronic ailments and denial of decent health care facilities had resulted in steep decline in his health, he said.

Pakistan also called upon the government of India for acquittal of Malik from all baseless charges and immediate release from prison so that he could be reunited with his family, recuperate his health and return to normal life.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari strongly condemned the “unjust” sentencing of Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik in a “sham” trial.

“India can never silence Kashmiris’ voice for freedom and self-determination. Pakistan stands with Kashmiri brothers and sisters (and) will continue to provide all possible support in their just struggle,” he wrote on Twitter.

On Saturday, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had issued directives to the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Ministry of Human Rights to raise at the forums concerned at international level the issue of the conviction of Yasin Malik.

Addressing a news conference along with Kashmiri leader, Mashaal Malik, who is also the wife of incarcerated Yaseen Malik, she said that India had made false allegations against peaceful Hurriyat leader Yaseen Malik.

She said that India was conspiring to sentence him to death or life imprisonment through this fake case.