‘Yasin Malik being denied a fair trial’

Srinagar, April 10 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the family members of illegally detained Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman, Muhammad Yasin Malik, and rights activists have said that the incarcerated leader is being denied a fair trial.

The Indian government has implicated the JKLF Chairman in decades old fake cases and presently he has been lodged in New Delhi’s infamous Tihar Jail.

When India’s notorious National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested Yasin Malik in April 2019, he was already in a jail in occupied Kashmir after the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) was slapped on him in early March. He has also been falsely charged with the killing of four Indian Air Force (IAF) officers in 1990 and the case is being pursued in a TADA court in Jammu by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) agency. The filing of fake cases against Yasin Malik has forced many in the territory to fear that the Indian government has already decided to sign his death warrant.

One of family members of Muhammad Yasin Malik told Al Jazeera, on condition of anonymity, that the reopening of fake murder cases reveals the Indian authorities’ ominous designs. “When you reopen a 30-year-old case and pursue it at a fast pace in a bid to hastily produce judgment, you can understand the intentions of this government,” he said, adding, “This is a political rather than a judicial move.”

Tufail Raja, the lawyer representing Yasin Malik in the fake case register against the JKLF chief by the NIA, said that false cases were being framed against his client but he was not the one who would succumb to any pressure. He said Yasin Malik has decided that if the authorities do not offer him a fair trial, he will boycott it.

Khurram Parvez, a leading activist who heads the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances and Coordinator of Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), said fair trial is a globally recognised right for everyone. “If you are suddenly pulling out old cases and not even allowing the accused to properly represent his case, then there would definitely be question marks over it. As of now, it seems like a political vendetta,” he added.

Many people in the Kashmir Valley fear that Yasin Malik is next in line to be “judicially murdered” by India’s right-wing government to further their political gains.

“We have seen that when it comes to Kashmiri political detainees, apart from the Indian state, even their judiciary also bypasses all rules, laws and guidelines,” Faizan Butt, a Kashmir-based independent researcher, said. The way Yasin Malik’s case is being hastily pursued right now is leading to lot of ominous apprehensions of history being repeated, he added.

Former Indian diplomat, Wajahat Habibullah, who had met Malik several times in the 1990s along with army and intelligence officials, also acknowledged speculations of him being hanged doing the rounds. “I am not in the government, so I can’t verify or authenticate these rumours, but I expect law would be allowed to take its own course,” Habibullah said. After being released from prison in 1994, Yasin Malik was not guilty of any criminal offence since then, he added.

AS Dulat, former chief of India’s spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), said, “I don’t want to comment over speculations of him being hanged, but if he was to be hanged now after all these years, I would say it is very sad.”

Meanwhile, Yasin Malik’s deteriorating health in jail during a global coronavirus pandemic has also added to the woes of his family.

“He has cardiological issues. Due to interrogations by Indian agencies, his heart valve had to be replaced. The current pandemic and poor conditions in jail worry us more,” a family member said.

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