An urgent appeal to governments, parliamentarians, human rights defenders, people of conscience, especially in India, to save Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik, who faces serious threat to his life.
We express our deep and serious concerns regarding threat to life of Mr Mohammad Yasin Malik, the Chairman of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front -JKLF- due to vindictive, and malicious motives of the Indian government against him. Mr Malik is languishing in India’s Tihar Jail in solitary confinement, at the behest of India’s National Investigation Authority –NIA- on trumped-up charges, and cases, that are over thirty year old. The ominously written head line by Shabir Hussain in the reputable Pakistani daily the Dawn, sums up this threat to Mr Malik’s life in all its frightening manifestations. Have they sealed Yasin Malik’s fate? The Dawn 19 September 2019.
“WHILE Kashmir continues to reel under a serious humanitarian crisis in the wake of the Aug 5 abrogation of Article 370, it seems another sinister potion is brewing in the Hindutva cauldron of India, to be served at an appropriate time to the collective conscience of the bloodthirsty electorate”.
Mr Malik’s arrest, incarceration, the NIA investigation, raking up of thirty year old cases against him, maligning him, and his character assassination by the jingoistic Indian media, and calling him a Pakistani proxy and a quisling, continuously smeared and accused by camp followers and cheer leaders of Mr Modi’s BJP/RSS government, and his ill treatment in solidarity confinement by the authorities, knowing full well that Mr Malik suffers from a number of serious health ailments.
All these are all clear and obvious signs that Prime Minister Modi’s government is callously, and vindictively up to some kind of a sinister plan, to silence the most effective and credible political voice in Kashmir, who is fully committed to a peaceful solution of the long standing conflict on the political status of the disputed State.
Mr Malik, the fifty five year old leader of the JKLF, has been illegally incarcerated since his arrest on 22 February 2019 from his residence in the Maisuma neighbourhood of Srinagar, and was initially taken to Srinagar’s Kothibagh Police station. As well as being the head of JKLF, Mr Malik is one of three leaders of the Joint Resistance Leadership -JRL- comprising of Syed Ali Shah Gilani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Mr Malik’s party the JKLF, and the JRL, are committed to a peaceful and democratic resolution of Kashmir’s political status- full name Jammu and Kashmir.
On 7 March 2019 however, under the notoriously inhuman, and draconian Public Safety Act PSA, Mr Malik was removed to Kot Balwal jail in Jammu, the winter capital of the State. And during the early hours of 9 May 2019, he was removed from Jammu’s Kot Balwal Jail, and taken to the Indian capital Delhi to be subjected to NIA’s- strong arm tactics, which has the task of manufacturing evidence against Kashmiri leaders like Mr Malik, and his party the JKLF, as part of the Modi government’s malicious campaign to malign and subvert the legitimate and indigenous political struggle for a peaceful resolution of the more than seventy two year old conflict.
It needs to be pointed out however, that on 5 August 2019, Prime Minister Modi’s government in an illegal action, bifurcated and annexed Kashmir in defiance of 11 UN resolutions, including the deliberate disregard of bilateral agreements, such as the Shimla Accord, with Pakistan, and flagrant violation of historic legal arrangements between India and Kashmir. The changed status of Kashmir breaks the disputed region into two union territories of Jammu Kashmir and that of Ladakh to be directly ruled from New Delhi, as submerged and downgraded political entities.
In the wake of India’s unilateral action, it appears quite clear that the arrest and incarceration of Mr Malik, and the subsequent banning of the JKLF, was in fact, to pave the way for India’s grievous military, and political actions against Kashmir and its people, who remain subjected to the inhuman siege, which is being enforced since 5 August 2019 by close to a million, military and paramilitary troops.
As a pro independent and a pacifist leader in Kashmir, Mr Malik actively sought a political resolution of the conflict that has bedevilled relations in South Asia, and which remains a constant threat to peace and prosperity of the entire region.
Mr Malik however, has opposed Modi government’s suppression of political dissent, and use of militarised violence to stifle democratic expression, and the denial of right to assembly and free movement in Kashmir. He has stood up to Prime Minister Modi’s ideologically driven manifest objective of Hindutva to obliterate Kashmir’s history, geography, social, cultural, and religious harmony, and identity through demographic change, and taking away fundamental citizenship rights from the people, which they achieved with tremendous sacrifices during struggle against their autocratic rulers throughout almost the first half of the twentieth century.
Abrogation of articles 370 and 35A on 5 August 2019 by Mr Modi’s government therefore, is a direct attack on the identity and fundamental freedoms of Kashmiris, and a calculated move to assimilate them in India without a trace. Mr Modi’s government is intent upon breaking the will and spirit of Kashmiri people, despite UN resolutions which call for a UN supervised Plebiscite to determine the status of the disputed State.
Both as head of JKLF, and as part of the collective Kashmiri leadership, Mr Malik stood firmly opposed, to Mr Modi’s anticipated abrogation of articles 370 and 35A, and organised peaceful political dissent, which always met with militarised violence and use of pellet guns against peaceful protestors. Under Mr Modi’s rule unfortunately, right of a leader like Yasin Malik, and role of a political organisation like the JKLF, to organise peaceful democratic dissent, is called anti-national, even when the dissent is in Kashmir, which is under defacto rather than dejure Indian control, pending a final settlement of its future, in accordance with the principles of UN Charter, and the sovereign right of the people of Kashmir.
Indian government quite wrongly out of spite, and political expediency to placate its ideological electorate, accuses Mr Malik of supporting militancy. Mr Malik made a clear decision and commitment in 1995 to lead a pacifist and peaceful political struggle as a basis of resolving the Kashmir issue. The West, in particular the Americans, and the British encouraged him to make this decision, assuring him of their support for a solution. For this noble objective, he engaged at the highest level with India and Pakistan, the rivals, each of whom, occupies parts of the former Kingdom of Kashmir.
Mr Malik met leaders of both countries, including Mr Imran Khan when he was an opposition leader. He met with the then Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, and former Prime Minister Mr Inder Kumar Gujral. He met with Mr Nawaz Sharif when he was Prime Minister of Pakistan, and also met with the then President General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. He engaged with leading members of civil society in both countries, to enlist their support in his quest for a peaceful resolution of the issue. He undertook safar-e-azadi -journey for freedom- across six thousand towns and villages of Kashmir, and engaged with the masses for a peaceful resolution. In a journey of 118 days across Kashmir he obtained one and a half million signatures which he subsequently presented to the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan.
Mr Malik’s many peaceful activities over the years included observing hunger strikes to seek peace and freedom for which he was accused of being a follower of Gandhi, the father of modern India, whose non-violent philosophy is being despised by Prime Minister Modi’s BJP/ RSS alliance that governs India today. Over the years Mr Malik has been arrested for more than 800 times, and in 1992 Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience during his incarceration at the notorious Tihar jail, where he is presently being kept in solidarity confinement since his removal from Jammu on 9 May 2019.
Mr Malik visited the United States of America, and twice visited the United Kingdom. In both countries he met politicians, diplomats, gave numerous interviews to press and media, and addressed students in universities. He engaged across all sections and shades of opinion in Kashmir, in India and Pakistan, and met with visiting delegations from the European Union, the US, and the UK and from elsewhere in the world. Throughout the past almost thirty years Mr Malik has assiduously sought support, both in the sub-continent and across the world, for a just resolution of the Kashmir dispute, and like his party, Mr Malik has wished to make his homeland a bridge of peace, and not a bone of contention in South Asia.
How can such a man, who is committed to a peaceful resolution of his homeland’s political future, support militancy, and be involved in terror funding, as Mr Modi’s government would have the world believe? Mr Malik is a part of the solution for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute rather than a part of the problem. Obviously it is Mr Modi’s government which has an agenda to remove and eliminate Mr Yasin Malik, which is a deeply serious cause for concern to Kashmiris and the JKLF across both sides of the ceasefire line -CfL- as well as in the diaspora.
As Manoj Joshi, the distinguished Indian writer, and journalist explains in the online Wire on 25 March- 2019 about India’s intolerance to political dissent after Mr Malik’s arrest and subsequent ban on the JKLF that, “the government may cite Pulwama as the reason for its action but the mess in Kashmir predates that. It goes back to 2016 and Operation All Out, aimed at an all-or-nothing approach that has refused to discriminate between political dissidence and armed militancy.” Equally an editorial in the Pakistani daily, the News International on 24 March 2019 states: “By arresting Malik and banning the JKLF, India has confirmed that it sees any opposition to its occupation, no matter how peaceful it may be, to be illegitimate.”
Mr Malik’s illegal arrest and inhuman treatment, in incarceration therefore, and the ban imposed on the JKLF, is to eliminate the leader and his political movement, as Mr Modi and his hard line religious nationalist government, is not interested in a political, democratic and people centric solution of the seventy two year old Kashmir dispute. Mr Modi has shown complete disregard for the historic Indo- Kashmir legal and constitutional arrangements around the nature of Kashmir’s provisional ‘accession’ with India in 1947, and India’s obligations to Kashmir and its people. Equally and quite blatantly, Prime Minister Modi’s government has reneged on India’s international commitments on the Kashmir issue. In these circumstances we genuinely fear for Mr Malik’s legal rights and freedom, as an innocent man, because of trumped up and concocted charges against him, and indeed his physical safety, and threat to his life.
We urge governments to rise above their economic interests, parliamentarians, human rights defenders, and people of conscience, especially in India, to make urgent representations to the Indian government, not to malign and frame an innocent man who is a genuine grassroots based leader of his people, to become yet another victim, as a sacrificial Kashmiri lamb, at the altar of Mr Modi’s ideological political project, that has also created a socio- political cleavage in the Indian society itself, and has the manifest objective of obliterating the centuries old identity and history of Kashmir.
Chairman Diplomatic Bureau of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front-JKLF.
International Secretariat-119-123 Cannon Street Road. London E1 2XL Email: email@example.com
December 9, 2019: