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Yasin Malik: from terrorist to a peace maker

Mohammad Yasin Malik, once on top of list of most wanted terrorists, is a convert to non-violence, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: May 01, 2007 13:25 IST
Arun Joshi
Arun Joshi
Hindustan Times

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik, once on top of list of most wanted terrorists, is a convert to non-violence owing to his solitary confinement in a prison and compassion with which two Hindu doctors treated him when he underwent a surgery.

That is how his journey from commitment to violence to champion of peace has been profiled by Renee Garfinke, a professor of George Washington university , US in her report: " Personal Transformations: Moving From Violence to Peace", released by the United States Institute for Peace ( USIP) on Monday.

Malik has been clubbed with other extremists turned peace nicks from Nigeria, Israel and other conflict areas, where religious extremism charactersises social behaviour and where demonizing each other is more common than accepting or working with each other.

The report focuses on the compelling narratives of these people, how they transformed and are now committed to reconciliation and peace. The JKLF chairman, who was among the first to bring gun culture to Kashmir, has been sketched as : "Yasin Malik, Kashmir: A Prison Conversion to Nonviolence".

"As a young man Malik was a leader of the Islamic Student League, committed to armed struggle for Kashmiri independence. His record is one of outright violence, first as victim, then as perpetrator. As commander-in-chief of Islamic forces during the 1990 massacres in Kashmir, he was arrested and given a long sentence in solitary confinement."

" During years in solitary confinement, he studied the intellectual history of nonviolence and became committed to it. Gandhi and others were not just role models and inspiration; in his isolation they became his companions as well—his mentors. They were his "spiritual support while I learned to suffer." Most of all, they taught him patience along with hope. Just as they patiently suffered and eventually prevailed, so he and his cause would prevail," Renee said about JKLF leader, whom she interviewed for her special report.

She says that "Malik's experiences of physical abuse and loss are of mythic proportions.For some people, traumatic pain and loss are also opportunities. When Malik was hospitalized for serious surgery he realized that the two Hindu physicians who were treating himso tenderly knew he was a terrorist. They could have neglected him, or worse. They could have perhaps even should have considered him their enemy. Nevertheless they treated him with compassion. Like so many others who have changed their attitudes and actions toward enemies, Malik recalled having been treated with compassion at a time of need as an important step in his journey."

Malik was arrested in August 1990 and released in May 1994. It was at that point of time that he declared himself committed to the Gandhian ways hunger strikes, satygraha and so on. There were attempts on his life and he was demonized as following un-Islamic ways. He still faces charges of having shot dead four Indian Air Force officers in Sannat Nagar area of Srinagar on January 25, 1990. These details are not mentioned in the report.

But it does say, " Solitary confinement represents a nearly total loss, and it was in those depths that Malik was able to reflect and relate to men from other times and places who led their people with nonviolence. He became convinced and committed to that way and wanted to create a nonviolent culture for his people.

It notes : " Today Malik's vision extends beyond self-determination for Kashmir " and quotes him having declared : " I want to create a nonviolent culture in the world."

ht epaper

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