by Zia Sarhadi (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 4, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1443)
While Pakistan is engulfed in an unnecessary and deliberately manufactured political crisis, an Indian court convicted Yasin Malik, a Kashmiri freedom fighter, on terrorism-related charges. The May 19 verdict could result in death sentence or life imprisonment for the Kashmiri freedom fighter.
Malik was charged with ‘terrorist acts’, illegally raising funds, being a member of a ‘terrorist’ organisation and criminal conspiracy and sedition. He is chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) that seeks an independent state of Jammu and Kashmir.
After the verdict, the presiding judge, Praveen Singh set May 25 to hear arguments from both sides—the prosecution and defence—on sentencing. Malik had dismissed his lawyer saying he would defend himself. Throughout the trial that many fair-minded observers saw as a farce held in a kangaroo court, Malik insisted that he was a freedom fighter.
At the sentencing hearing, the presiding judge sentence Yasin Malik to life in prison. This immediately led to protests in different parts of Indian occupied Kashmir.
“Terrorism-related charges levelled against me are concocted, fabricated and politically motivated,” the JKLF 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.
Given the fascist Hindutva ideology spreading like virus throughout India, there are grave concerns for his life. The Narendra Modi regime infested by Hindu fascists—he himself has emerged from the bowels of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a fascist outfit—appears determined to crush any dissenting voices, especially in Kashmir. Not surprisingly, 10 people were killed in protests in Kashmir over Yasin Malik’s conviction and sentence.
The Modi regime dredged up trumped-up charges against Malik dating back 30 years even though he had renounced armed struggle in 1994. His pacifist stance disappointed many Kashmiris. Following his renunciation of armed struggle, Malik was even received by then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
With Modi’s ascension to power in 2014, the political dynamics changed. Fascism was now the dominant ideology of the Indian State in which there is no room for other religious minorities, especially Muslims. The state of Jammu and Kashmir has always been a thorn in India’s side because its people have refused to accept Indian occupation, despite Delhi finding a few collaborators to do its bidding.
Malik was arrested on February 22, 2019 preceding Modi’s illegal abrogation of Article 370 that had granted Jammu and Kashmir special autonomous status. On May 10, 2019, he was transferred to Delhi’s notorious Tihar Jail. His transfer to Tihar Jail violated the Geneva Conventions since Jammu and Kashmir is occupied territory. The occupying power—any occupier—is prohibited from transferring people from the occupied territory to any outside jurisdiction.
Further, Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly states “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.” India is a signatory to this UN declaration yet it tramples upon its articles so nonchalantly. The Modi regime should be held accountable for such egregious crimes.
Malik has been held in terrible conditions in jail and denied proper medication despite suffering from a serious heart condition. The Modi-led Hindu fascist regime appears hell-bent on making him an example to other Kashmiri strugglers disregarding all norms of civilized conduct or regulations and legality.
Delhi’s Tihar Jail is notorious for holding political prisoners. Torture is rampant. Maqbool Butt, another JKLF leader, was hanged in this jail in February 1984. So was Afzal Guru in February 2013. Amnesty International said he did not receive adequate representation for defence and that his execution was carried out in secrecy. Both Maqbool Butt and Afzal Guru were buried inside the Tihar Jail without affording their families the right to arrange a proper burial for them.
Given the politicization of courts that has been decried by many legal experts, there are grave concerns for Yasin Malik. Even if he has been spared the death penalty, his life is still in danger because of poor health and lack of medical facilities in the notorious Tihar Jail.
The Modi regime gone ahead with its crime against another Kashmiri leader through concocted charges and a farcical trial. It proves yet again that India is truly a fascist state. It is not governed by the rule of law.
Its crime against Yasin Malik will only deepen the hatred of the Kashmiris towards Indian occupiers. They have struggled since 1947 for the right to self-determination and will not give up this right regardless of how many innocent people India executes after farcical trials.
Freedom will ultimately triumph, in sha Allah.