Rubaiya Sayeed summoned as witness in 1989 abduction case

Though the trial has been going on for the past many years, it is for the first time that Rubaiya has received witness summons in the case

SRINAGAR: A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Jammu has issued summons to Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, to appear before it on July 15 as a witness in the case of her kidnapping by the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in December 1989.

The incumbent chairman of the JKLF, Muhammad Yasin Malik, who was sentenced to life after his conviction in a terror funding case by a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in New Delhi earlier this week, is an accused in Rubaiya’s kidnapping.

Though the trial has been going on for the past many years, it is for the first time that Rubaiya, who is the younger sister of former chief minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, has received witness summons in the case. She has been listed as a prosecution witness by the CBI that took over the investigation of the case in the early 1990s.

Rubaiya, then 23 years old and doing her medical internship at Srinagar’s government-run Lala Dev Memorial Women’s Hospital, was waylaid by the JKLF cadres while she was returning home in a minibus on December 8, 1989. Her father, Mr Sayeed, was serving as India’s first Muslim home minister in the Janata Dal government headed by V.P. Singh then.

After days of negotiations between the captors and the Central government’s official mediators and some family friends of the Muftis, Rubaiya’s release was secured in exchange for five jailed members of the JKLF -- Sheikh Abdul Hameed, Ghulam Nabi Butt, Noor Muhammad Kalwal, Muhammed Altaf and Javed Ahmed Zargar on December 13, 1989 evening. She currently lives with her family in Tamil Nadu.

The then J&K chief minister, Farooq Abdullah, who had strongly opposed releasing any militants to secure Rubaiya’s release, had later said that setting five JKLF cadres only gave a fillip to militancy in Kashmir. He had alleged that his government was threatened with dismissal by the Centre if the militants were not exchanged for Rubaiya.

Yasin Malik is among several JKLF members accused of conspiring or being actively involved in the sensational kidnapping, which proved a watershed for militancy in the Valley. In 1999, three JKLF activists -- Shoukat Ahmed Bakshi, Manzoor Ahmed Sofi and Mohammad Iqbal Gandroo -- arrested for kidnapping Rubaiya were granted bail by the court after nine years.

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