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Life-term for Yasin Malik, a blow to content and symbolism he represented in Kashmir

26/05/2022 at 12:55 PM

Arun Joshi

NIA court on Wednesday sentenced Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front leader  Yasin Malik to life imprisonment in  terror-funding case , something that had become a certainty after the court  had convicted  him few days ago . This sentence is not an ordinary decision , nor it is ordinary in its impact on the terror-funding cases and the individuals involved in it .

Yasin Malik , more than  a leader of separatism in Kashmir, is also seen as a man who straddled on different sides and emerged as a symbol of resistance , much more  than in the league of the leaders who stuck to separatism  and remained patrons of violence and jihad all the time . He represented  resistance with , what he claimed to be with a peace mission , but worked  for all the activities that created doubts over India’s  writ in Jammu and Kashmir . The sentence is a blow to the symbolism  he represented .Terror-funding  became the source of his undoing .

From now  on , as the things are moving- Pakistan is crying foul  over what it calls “ fabricated charges” against Yasin Malik , this will  serve several lessons for the people who are involved in the militancy-related infrastructure and also those who have been lulled into belief that the  separatist leaders claiming to be holier than thou  were , in fact, ordinary mortals with ordinary mind. It is dismantling of symbolism that will matter the most .

The sentence has overruled the apprehensions that some individuals because of their profile in the terror ecosystem and the sentiment that they claim to be representing could go  scot-free . The verdict has come as a sharp contrast to the way the government had treated  Yasin Malik in 1990s – when after his arrest in August 1990 he was kept in jail for little less than four years and then set free as a free-bird . There were. Many motivations that time  as the hopes were pinned  on him to launch a  peaceful movement ,based on the  slogan of “ Azadi” or freedom to counter the aggressive campaign of pro-Pakistan groups , particularly Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen that was reckoned as the militarily  strongest  group in Kashmir that time . The Government also needed a face who could help it restart the political process in Kashmir which was almost dead because of the gun culture , which had swept across the Valley, adding graves by dozens in all corners of the landscape .

Times have changed . This was evident the way NIA squeezed  the separatist leadership and investigated not only  how they  raised their profile, spread terrorism  not only through the promotion of the gun culture, but also through the narratives . This is where Yasin Malik , once most sought after  separatist leader, had graduated himself .

With  Yasin Malik getting  life term for his involvement in the terror funding , based on his confessional statement and the evidence gathered by the NIA , it is bound to serve as a cap on the terror-funding in Kashmir . This is a clear  warning to all those involved in  arranging  funds for the terror infrastructure in Kashmir , which can be as deadly as the suicide attacks- the kind of which was witnessed  on  February 14, 2019 in Pulwama , in which 40 CRPF men were killed-   to what may appear to be innocuous  like   setting up of  madrassas  for education of  children coming from humble origin . This is a train of thought that  pushes the engine of terrorism.

In Kashmir psyche , Yasin Malik  figures as a man who introduced the gun culture in late 1980s  to “ liberate  Kashmir” , and also the person who gave a call to farewell to arms and adopted   Gandhian  ways of protest – hunger strikes and sit-ins , and gathering of signatures for his agenda  of securing “ azadi” , and also the  leader who  joined platform of Joint Resistance Leadership that was formed by  Pakistan to challenge the Indian writ in Kashmir . The JRL in which Yasin Malik, was one of the central figures along with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq  and  late Syed Ali Shah Geelani , was responsible for reigniting the civil unrest  . The money came from all sources, and some of which was arranged locally too. The JRL was particularly active in 2016  unrest  following the  killing of  social media savvy  militant commander Burhan Wani   on July 8  that year , in issuing the calendars for general strikes and street protests .

The volatile street protests which were called by JRL brought about clashes, deaths and blinding, and propelled the Kashmir valley as a place where guns, stones and clashes  could  be engineered  and made the state to bow . There were instances when the army and paramilitary forces were chased with stones and other missiles . These scenes  brought about the optics in which civil unrest superimposed itself on the terrorism . The terrorism  worked beneath .

Yasin  Malik , of course  with the backing of Pakistan , was one of the architects of these protests . These processions and clashes  brought about the  outcomes  which normally are seen as a result of the use of guns and bombs .

It would be wrong to see the impact of his sentence in the street protests . Kashmiris have learned their lessons since the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, they don’t want to get killed in clashes . This remains to be seen that how much the profile of Yasin Malik and others of his ilk will get dented in the eyes of the people currently busy in economic activity  It is a wait and watch situation.

About the Author:

Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.


This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with those of prameyanews.com.

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