May 18, 2022
By Munizae Jahangir
In the scorching heat of Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city, Razia Sultana protests for her father’s release from India’s Tihar jail.
Yasin Malik, a Kashmiri freedom fighter and leader of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front has been languishing in prison since February 2019 and now a Delhi court has ordered framing of charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in a case related to alleged terrorism and secessionist activities that disturbed the Kashmir valley in 2017.
UAPA is widely regarded as a draconian law by India’s civil society activists and legal experts, as well as international rights bodies. In 2020, United Nations special rapporteurs stated that provisions contained in the Act violates several articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which India is a signatory.
In Yasin Malik’s case, the Delhi courts also ordered framing of charges against other Kashmiri leaders like Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin as well as Kashmiri separatist leaders including Shabbir Shah, Masarat Alam among others, under various sections of the stringent UAPA and Indian Penal Code (IPC), including criminal conspiracy, waging war against the country, and unlawful activities and terrorism, in a case pertaining to secessionist activities that disturbed Jammu and Kashmir.
Special Judge Praveen Singh, after discussion of evidence, said “Prima facie, it is established that Shabir Shah, Yasin Malik, Rashid Engineer, Altaf Fantoosh, Masrat and Hurriyat/Joint Resistance Leadership were the direct recipients of terror funds.”
He further stated that “So far from the statements of witnesses, a pattern is emerging – Pakistan or its agencies and accused share a common goal and there is an agreement on the means to be used for achieving that goal and the terror funding is also being provided from Pakistan”
But Yasin Malik’s wife Mushaal Mullick says the charges have been trumped up to incarcerate the Kashmiri leader and quash his struggle for rights of the Kashmiri people.
“I am worried that it will be a media trial and he will be handed the death sentence,” she told Voicepk.net. “He and his peaceful movement are being associated with terrorism. He is being tortured in prison and has not been granted consular access.”
A verdict by the court is expected tomorrow.
Here in Pakistan the Kashmiri leader finds pockets of support, but Razia Sultana and her mother fear it will not be enough to free Yasin Malik from legal proceedings initiated by the Modi government that are now widely being seen as unjust.