Members of security personnel stand guard along a sealed area in Srinagar on May 25, 2022, after the sentencing hearing of Yasin Malik. (Photo by AFP)
SRINAGAR: The security forces authorities have sounded alert across Jammu and Kashmir especially the Kashmir Valley following separatist leader Muhammad Yasin Malik being sentenced to life in prison by a special Delhi court in a case of terror funding and other charges.
Senior officers of the J&K police, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), other Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), paramilitary forces and the Army closeted here on Wednesday evening to review the overall security situation and the law-and-order issues emerging of the sentencing of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader by the NIA court.
The meeting chaired by Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range), Vijay Kumar, and attended, besides by senior J&K police officers and regional chiefs, the IGP of the CRPF and DIGs of the Border Security Force (BSF), the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and senior officers of the Army also took a detailed review of the security arrangement being put in place for the upcoming Amarnath yatra, the official sources said.
Earlier Wednesday, larger parts of Srinagar witnessed a spontaneous shut down by traders to show solidarity with Malik. However, the public and private transport plied as usual in and outside the summer capital.
Soon a crowd assembled outside the residence of the separatist leader in City’s Maisuma area to chant pro-azadi slogans and to praise him for his "valour". When a strong contingent of J&K police and the CRPF moved in the congested locality, irate youth hurled rocks and other missiles at them, the witnesses said adding that the police fired a few teargas canisters to quell the mob.
Though the situation was brought under control immediately, tensions persisted. The authorities have decided to impose curbs on the movement of people in and around Maisuma, the sources said. Also, police and CAPF reinforcements have been fanned out to prevent a law-and-order situation arising in any part of the Valley.
The internet services in the Maisuma neighbourhood were suspended on Wednesday afternoon "as a precautionary measure", the officials said terming the clash in the area earlier as an ‘isolated occurrence’.
Meanwhile, People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a conglomerate of J&K’s opposition regional parties and their allies from the national Left parties, has said that life imprisonment given to Malik is "unfortunate and a setback to the efforts for peace".
"We are afraid that this will further compound the uncertainties in the region and will only fuel more alienation and separatist feelings," PAGD chief spokesman and CPIM leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said. He added, "The NIA Court has delivered its verdict but not justice. The triumphalism being displayed by the BJP and the corporate media is bound to prove counterproductive." The spokesman also said that Malik should avail all legal opportunities to contest this verdict.
Separatist Hurriyat Conference alliance faction led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq strongly condemned the conviction and the sentence of life imprisonment for Malik and said that the JKLF had since 1994 pursued peaceful and democratic means of conflict resolution.
"As a strong votary of dialogue and negotiations between the concerned parties to the Kashmir conflict-the people of J&K, India and Pakistan, he has been relentlessly and selflessly seeking its resolution. Malik actively participated in all negotiations held on Kashmir after 2000 under various regimes in New Delhi and Islamabad. Yet he was arrested, shifted to Tihar and has now been convicted in invented cases under draconian laws, when he is actually being punished for his political beliefs on the J&K dispute and for representing the sentiments of its people," it said in a statement here.
The alliance faction asked the Government of India to release all political prisoners languishing in jails across India and under house arrest and resolve the lingering Kashmir conflict peacefully "through deliberations among the parties to the dispute keeping in view the will of the people of J&K". It added, "Imprisonment and incarceration cannot change that reality."
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) welcomed the verdict "even if it does not meet the expectation of the people especially those wronged by Malik." Party leaders Nirmal Singh and Kavinder Gupta in their identical statements said that the people particularly those whose kin were murdered by the JKLF and its leader in the hey day of militancy in Kashmir had expected the court to give him capital punishment.
"If you ask me, the people had expected the court to give this terrorist the severest of the severe punishment for killing innocent people himself or through other terrorists of his organisation. They are disappointed but the sentences awarded to him today would be welcomed by the people of J&K and beyond," said Mr. Gupta. He pointed out that Malik is facing trial also in two other cases pertaining to the killing of four Indian Air Force personnel in Srinagar on January 25, 1990 and the kidnapping of Rubia Sayeed, the daughter of the then Home Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and that "hopefully he would be awarded death penalty in one of these cases".