For six years of Farooq Abdullah's rule, Yasin Malik had a free run
Jammu Tawi, May 23: It has taken decades for law to catch up with Yasin Malik, chairman of J&K Liberation Front, who had been involved in engineering violent protests, pelting stones, burning schools, killing innocent civilians, raising, receiving and collecting funds domestically and from other other countries through hawala and waging war against India. On May 19, he was convicted in a terror funding case registered in 2017 under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.
In a foxy move, meant to endear himself as a crusader for J&K's independence to people in the valley, as a loyal agent to Pakistan and as a peacenik for left-liberals in India and western countries, Malik did not contest charges and owned up his crime without any remorse. His admission of guilt was in continuation of his earlier farcical announcement that he would henceforth renounce violence in quest of peace.
Secessionist movements are not alien to India. Naga, Mizo, ULFA and PLA insurgents funded, armed and supported by China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, fought for independence for years but were eventually brought around to accept Indian sovereignty through negotiations and sustained pressure by security forces. But Kashmiri insurgency is a different cup of tea. It has continued unabated, thanks to Islamabad's all out support, connivance of state leadership with separatists, Delhi's lack of political will and absence of clarity over how much freedom is to be given to security forces for neutralizing terrorists. Delhi was happy blaming ISI, Hafiz Saeed, Let, H-u-M etc. and persuading terrorists to realize the futility of violence, while Abdullahs, Muftis and Hurriyat worked in tandem for either independence, merger with Pakistan or quasi independence to J&K following devolutions of all powers sans defense and communication.
For six years of Farooq Abdullah's rule, Yasin Malik had a free run. He could merrily engineer disruption of India-West Indies cricket match and organize abduction of Rubaiya Sayeed, Mehbooba Mufti's sister, murder of 4 Indian Air Force personnel and genocide of Kashmiri Pundits. After Farooq's exit, he remained briefly in prison under Public Safety Act but with Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress forming the government, he emerged as the toast of left liberals and a key stakeholder along with Hurriyat leaders to broker peace, was invited to forums to justify his separatist agenda and met even Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh to exchange ideas on bringing peace to Kashmir. The deceptive peace during Azad's tenure was used by Malik to visit Pakistan to meet ISI handlers to tie up financial and operational arrangements and tour 3500 villages for what he called Safar-e-Azadi.' The outcome of his efforts was visible during six -year regime of Omar Abdullah and nearly three-year rule of Mufti Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti when blasts, killings, Hartals, demonstrations and stone pelting became order of the day.
BJP apparently took a calculated gamble when it joined Mehbooba's PDP government, hoping to understand by working from within, the state's role in helping separatism thrive since 1948. However, it soon realized that with Mehbooba at the helm, it could do nothing to contain subversion of population and all branches of administration and police. It also must have become clear that Kashmir issue could not be resolved by taking NC, PDP, Congress leaders, Pakistan, Hurriyat and Yasin Maliks on board.
Thus the choice left was to act decisively. In June 2018, it withdrew support to Mehbooba, imposed President's rule, then abrogated Article 370 and 35A, divided state into union territories of J&K and Ladakh and began ruling directly from Delhi. Since then, several collaborators including Yasin Malik have been facing the heat. As of now, terror acts have been largely contained but they are far from being crushed. One hopes, Abdullahs, Muftis, Hurriyat and their gang will not be allowed to return to the center stage of political activities by Kashmiris, fed up of violence and lost opportunities. It will also be a betrayal of J&K's economic transformation, its yearning for peace and its integration with India like any other states.
(Amar Bhushan worked with the Research and Analysis Wing for 24 years after briefly serving in the BSF intelligence, State Special Branch and Intelligence Bureau. He served as the Special Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat before he retired in 2005.)