From holding a Kalashnikov rifle to turning into a self-avowed follower of Mahatma Gandhi, the final 30 years of legendary Kashmiri insurgent chief Yasin Malik’s life have remained a battle in opposition to the Indian rule within the disputed area.
Malik, 56, was sentenced to life in jail final week after he was convicted in a terror-funding case, to which he pleaded responsible.
Malik is amongst key separatist leaders in Indian-administered Kashmir who advocate a peaceable decision to the decades-old battle and warn of the hazards the lingering dispute poses to peace and improvement in South Asia.
Malik heads the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Entrance (JKLF), a bunch that advocates for a Kashmir state impartial from each India and Pakistan, who every govern over components of the Himalayan area however declare it in its entirety.
The JKLF was amongst a number of separatist teams banned by the Indian authorities in 2019 for his or her “secessionist ideology”. The ban was adopted by a widespread crackdown in opposition to separatists and rebels, most of whom proceed to stay in jail.
Later that 12 months, shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected to energy, the Hindu nationalist authorities headed by Modi scrapped Indian-administered Kashmir of its particular standing, divided it into two federal territories and imposed an unprecedented safety shutdown within the valley, throughout which hundreds of Kashmiris had been arrested and imprisoned.
Malik’s conviction is being seen as a closing effort by Modi’s authorities to depart Kashmiri pro-freedom teams with out management – one of many aims behind India’s 2019 strikes.
Taking on arms
Malik was born in 1966 in Maisuma, a locality within the coronary heart of Indian-administered Kashmir’s most important metropolis of Srinagar. Earlier than revocation of the area’s particular standing, Maisuma was often known as the “Gaza of Kashmir” for its relentless anti-India protests.
For Malik, the defining second got here in 1987 when the Indian authorities was accused of rigging the meeting elections in collusion with the Nationwide Convention, the principle pro-India political social gathering in Indian-administered Kashmir that has ruled the area for many of the final seven many years.
In that election, Malik was campaigning for Muhammad Yusuf Shah, one of many leaders of the Muslim United Entrance (MUF), a conglomerate of events demanding a referendum to interrupt away from India. Analysts say the MUF was on its method to victory when the polls had been rigged.
The rigging of the 1987 polls sparked unprecedented anger within the area, which noticed hundreds of Kashmiri males, together with Malik, crossing over to Pakistan for arms coaching and returning to combat in opposition to the Indian rule.
Shah is now based mostly in Pakistan with the identify Syed Salahuddin and heads the Hizbul Mujahideen, one of many outstanding anti-India armed teams.
Malik returned from Pakistan in 1989 to move the JKLF, the primary outfit to declare an armed rebel in Indian-administered Kashmir.
In December of the identical 12 months, the group kidnapped Rubaiya Sayeed, the 23-year-old daughter of then Federal Residence Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, additionally a outstanding Kashmiri politician.
Sayeed was launched 5 days later after New Delhi agreed to JKLF’s demand of releasing 5 of its members.
Turning a Gandhian
Malik was arrested in 1991 on a number of costs, together with Sayeed’s kidnapping. When he was launched in 1994, he was a modified man and determined to surrender weapons.
Malik’s JKLF declared an indefinite and unilateral ceasefire with the Indian authorities. Since then, Malik had been advocating for a non-violent battle for the area’s independence.
“He was everybody’s chief right here. He lived a lifetime of struggling for standing for a trigger. All of us are grieving,” one among his neighbours Ahmad, who didn’t wish to be recognized by his first identify for fears of reprisal, instructed Al Jazeera.
After giving up arms in 1994, Malik took command of the JKLF’s political wing and have become a number one campaigner for Kashmir’s freedom. Syed Ali Geelani, a veteran Kashmiri chief who rivalled Malik’s stature throughout the separatist camp, died final 12 months.
Whereas it grew to become routine for Malik to be detained by the police after which launched over protests for freedom, he remained persistent in mobilising crowds, organising shutdowns, and making requires the boycott of elections held by India within the disputed area.
Malik’s JKLF was a part of the All Events Hurriyat Convention (APHC), a joint alliance of pro-freedom teams which was fashioned to present a political face to the separatist motion within the area, until the APHC break up in 2003.
After the JKLF give up Hurriyat, Malik launched into a Safr-e-Azadi (journey to freedom) – a year-long journey by means of the Kashmir territory to mobilise folks for self-determination.
In 2006, Malik met the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, however their dialogue didn’t attain any breakthrough. New Delhi continued to maintain Indian-administered Kashmir beneath a good noose, triggering large-scale road protests.
In 2010, Malik joined fingers with prime separatists Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and fashioned a coordination committee to spearhead anti-India protests within the valley.
Within the aftermath of the killing of prime insurgent commander Burhan Wani in 2016, the three prime pro-freedom leaders once more got here collectively to type a Joint Resistance Management. The group led months-long agitation within the area over Wani’s killing by issuing protest calendars and calling for shutdowns.
The following 12 months, Malik wrote an open letter to the US administration for its “failed guarantees” on the decision of the Kashmir concern.
“On the persuasion of US, UK, and European envoys, I took probably the most unpopular choice of unilateral ceasefire endangering my and the lives of my colleagues. [Despite] all odds and provocations by Indian forces to return on the trail of violence, I stood agency to my choice”, he wrote.
Through the years, Malik mentioned in lots of his interviews that he was additionally disillusioned with the place of India’s left-liberal class on Kashmir, accusing them of being “firefighters” of the Indian state within the area.
“It has turn out to be an unlucky routine that in disaster time, (Indian civil society members) come to Kashmir, accuse their very own authorities, promote huge desires to the folks of Kashmir, however as quickly because the disaster is over they pack their baggage,” he mentioned in a 2013 interview to Pakistan’s Daybreak newspaper.
Kashmiri political specialists name Malik one of many “tallest leaders within the area”.
“[By] giving him a life sentence, even if prime Indian management, together with former prime ministers, held negotiations with him, the Indian authorities desires to ship a message that separatism in Kashmir wouldn’t be tolerated at any price,” the analyst instructed Al Jazeera on situation of anonymity.
He cautioned that Malik’s sentencing “may very well be counterproductive as there’s enormous anger penting up within the valley and a small set off may result in violent road protests”.
“By deciding to not contest costs in opposition to him, Malik has additionally put a query mark on the entire judicial course of and the independence of the Indian judiciary,” he added.