An Indian court on Wednesday ordered life in jail for Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik for funding “terrorist” activities and other charges, a judge said, prompting street protests outside the politician’s residence.
Malik, head of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), earlier told a special court designated for the National Investigation Agency that he had been following Gandhian principles and non-violent politics after giving up arms in the 1990s.
“Life imprisonment sentence to the convict, Yasin Malik,” Special Judge Parveen Singh said in the court in New Delhi.
The court gave Malik, 56, two life sentences and five 10-year jail terms, all to be served concurrently, NDTV reported.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Muslim-majority Kashmir since an armed revolt against rule by India, which is mostly Hindu, erupted in 1989.
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.”
In occupied Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar, police fired tear gas and pellets to disperse stone-pelting protesters outside Malik’s residence.
Malik was convicted on May 19 and was charged with ‘terrorist acts’, illegally raising funds, being a member of a ‘terrorist’ organisation and criminal conspiracy and sedition.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari strongly condemned the sentencing of the Kashmiri leader in a “sham trial”.
PM Shehbaz called it a “black day” for the Indian justice system and said the life imprisonment for a valiant freedom fighter will provide fresh impetus to Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.
“Strongly condemn 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, will continue to provide all possible support in their just struggle,” wrote Bilawal on his Twitter handle.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Babar Iftikhar condemned the life sentence awarded to Malik on “fabricated charges”.
“Such oppressive tactics cannot dampen the spirit of [the] people of Kashmir in their just struggle against illegal Indian occupation. We stand with them in quest for self-determination as per United Nations Security Council resolutions,” he said.
The Senate had also passed a resolution urging the international community to force India to drop all fabricated charges against all political leaders of occupied Kashmir, including Malik, and ensure their safety and well-being.
The JKLF was one of the first armed freedom fighting groups to come into existence in occupied Kashmir. It supported an independent and united Kashmir. Led by Malik, the group gave up armed resistance in 1994.
A resistance movement broke out in occupied Kashmir in 1989 with fighters demanding an independent Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan. India accuses Pakistan of arming and training rebel groups to fight Indian forces, an allegation Pakistan vehemently opposes and denies. Islamabad says it provides only moral and diplomatic support to insurgents.