Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik was today sentenced to life in prison by a special Delhi court.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had demanded the maximum punishment, the death penalty, while the defence pleaded for life imprisonment.
“Two life sentences and five punishments of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment each have been awarded. All sentences are to run concurrently. A monetary penalty of over ₹ 10 lakh has also been levied,” lawyer Umesh Sharma said.
Different prison sentences and fines have been awarded for different cases. Yasin Malik now has the option to appeal the sentencing in the High Court.
Malik had earlier pleaded guilty to all the charges including those under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in a terror funding case. A special NIA court in Delhi pronounced its verdict on the quantum of punishment in the case.
During the hearing, Malik had argued why would the Indian government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee give him a passport and allow him to travel and speak around the world if he was a criminal.
Malik also said that he has followed the principles of Mahatma Gandhi ever since he gave up arms in 1994. “I have been doing non-violent politics in Kashmir ever since,” he said.
He even challenged the Indian intelligence agencies to point out if has been involved in any terror activities or violence in the last 28 years. “I will retire from politics and also my hanging,” he added.
Parts of Srinagar witnessed a shutdown today in anticipation of the verdict. Shops and other business establishments were shut in some parts of the city. However, the public transport and private vehicles were operating normally. Stone pelting and protest demonstrations were reported from a few places and the police had to resort to firing tear gas shells.
Security officials have been deployed in the sensitive areas of Srinagar to avoid any law-and-order situation, officials said.
The court had earlier said that Malik had set up an elaborate structure and mechanism across the world to raise funds for carrying out terrorist and other unlawful activities in Jammu and Kashmir in the name of the “freedom struggle”.
Special judge Praveen Singh had on May 19 convicted Yasin Malik and had directed NIA authorities to assess his financial situation to determine the amount of fine likely to be imposed.
On May 10, Malik had told the court that he was not contesting the charges levelled against him that included sections 16 (terrorist act), 17 (raising funds for terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy to commit terrorist act) and 20 (being member of terrorist gang or organisation) of the UAPA and sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 124-A (sedition) of the IPC.
The court had, meanwhile, 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.
The charge sheet was also filed against Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, who have been declared proclaimed offenders in the case.