Rubaiya Sayeed had difficulties in recalling the faces of her abductors and identifying them on Wednesday in a designated TADA court in Jammu. Rubaiya’s “selective amnesia’’ is being interpreted in Jammu & Kashmir here as being motivated by realpolitik. The “soft separatist’’ politics that her elder sister Mehbooba Mufti, the former CM and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief, espouses.
Journalist Dinesh Manhotra, formerly of The Tribune, interpreted Rubaiya’s behaviour as a sudden volte face and “witness turning hostile’’. In fact, it is more than that since the witness also happens to be the victim in the instant case, he pointed out in a programme over a local portal.
Manhotra said that Rubaiya’s abduction in Srinagar on December 8, 1989, was a major turning point which emboldened terrorists. At that time, the victim’s father, late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, was Union Home Minister and five terrorists were released in lieu of Rubaiya’s release. National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah was the CM of J&K then and he had opposed the release of the terrorists.
So sharp were the differences between Abdullah and Mufti at that time that Farooq quit the CM’s post on January 18, 1990. This had left the state which was already reeling under an onslaught of terrorists from Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) led by Muhammad Yasin Malik totally rudderless. Incidentally, January 19 is marked as holocaust or genocide day by the Kashmiri Pandit (KP) community till date.
On July 15, Rubaiya had recognised Yasin Malik as one of his abductors but then did not turn up on the next date of hearing in the case. However, on Wednesday, Rubaiya was a changed person while recording her evidence in the case, pending for close to 33 years. Her volte face is a setback for the CBI which was pursuing the case and its counsel Monika Kohli interacted with reporters after the hearing.
The court has issued a production warrant against JKLF chief Yasin Malik, directing the Tihar jail authorities to produce him physically before it on the next date of hearing (October 20) in Rubaiya abduction case. Earlier, Malik had requested the court to allow him to appear physically to cross-examine witnesses in the case. On Wednesday, lawyers of other accused in the case cross-examined Rubaiya.
In July, Mehbooba had defended the identification of Yasin Malik by her sister, saying “she had done her duty as per law’’. On Wednesday, Mehbooba did not offer any comments as regards Rubaiya’s change of heart. But she sure is the most likely cause behind this as her politics can be adversely affected by Rubaiya’s deposition leading to possible conviction of her abductors.
These days, Abdullahs and Muftis are on the same side as partners in People’s Alliance of Gupkar Alliance (PAGD) with the avowed objective of getting Article 370 restored. However, most people believe that this alliance is less than skin deep and meant more to hoodwink the masses than anything else. In the past, the rivalry between these two leading political families which dates back to over five decades, has often bordered on enmity.