Yasin Malik convicted in terror funding case
New Delhi: A Delhi court on Thursday convicted separatist leader and chief of banned Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Mohammad Yasin Malik after he pleaded guilty to charges related to terror funding, spreading terrorism and secessionist activities in the Kashmir Valley in 2017.
The court directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to assess Malik’s financial condition to determine the amount of fine that could be imposed and posted the matter for May 25 to announce the quantum of punishment.
Malik was booked for charges under sections 16 (terrorist act), 17 (raising funds for the terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy to commit terrorist act), and 20 (being member of terrorist gang or organisation) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 124-A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). After the charges were framed in March, Malik on May 10 pleaded guilty for all charges before the court and informed that he would not challenge any of the charges against him.
When an accused pleads guilty, they accept their crime and subsequently the prescribed punishment.
On Thursday, special judge Praveen Singh noted that sufficient time was provided to the accused to consider his plea and he was also granted an opportunity to have legal advice to make an informed choice. Malik was present in the court when the judgment was pronounced.
The court asked Malik if he wanted to re-think his plea, to which the accused said he had taken a well thought decision. The court noted that twice the amicus curiae met Malik in jail and explained to him the consequences of his decision and still, he stands by his decision to plead guilty.
“The amicus curiae was directed to visit the accused in jail and to have legal consultation with him, so that the accused could be made aware of the maximum punishment which could be awarded to him if he entered into the plea of guilt... Thereafter also, accused Yasin Malik pleaded guilty to the charges framed against him,” the court said in a nine-page order.
Malik faces the maximum punishment of life sentence for the offences committed by him.
The court had appointed advocate Akhand Pratap Singh as an amicus, since Malik did not have a counsel and had argued his case himself.
The case pertains to the conspiracy by Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed and separatist leaders, including members of the Hurriyat Conference, who had acted in connivance with active members of proscribed terrorist outfits Hizbul Mujahideen, Dukhtaran-e-Millat and others to raise, receive and collect funds domestically and from abroad through various illegal channels, including hawala.
The funds were for the purpose of separatist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir to cause disruption in the Valley by way of pelting stones on security forces, systematically burning schools, damaging public property, and waging war against India.
According to NIA, the probe established that Malik, the head of JKLF, was involved in terror activities in J&K.
“In 2016, he along with other Hurriyat leaders formed a self-styled group called ‘Joint Resistance Leadership’, whereby they started issuing directions to the masses to hold protests, demonstrations, hartaals, shutdowns, road-blocks and such other disruptive activities which would push the entire society into chaos and lawlessness,” the NIA said.
In 2017, NIA registered a suo motu (on its own) case and filed a charge sheet on January 18, 2018 against over a dozen people.
Earlier, the court also formally framed charges against Kashmiri separatist leaders including Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, Shabbir Shah, Masarat Alam, Md Yusuf Shah, Aftab Ahmad Shah, Altaf Ahmad Shah, Nayeem Khan, Md Akbar Khanday, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, Shabir Ahmad Shah, Abdul Rashid Sheikh, and Naval Kishore Kapoor.
All accused except for Watali are in judicial custody. Watali, who is suffering from a deadly disease, has been shifted to a home which has been declared a jail. The trial against the remaining accused in the case will continue as they have pleaded not guilty before the court.
The charge sheet was also filed against LeT founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, who have been declared proclaimed offenders in the case.