A special NIA court in Delhi on Wednesday, 25 May, handed a life sentence to Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik in a terror funding case.
The primary consideration for awarding a sentence should be that it should serve as a deterrence for those who seek to follow a similar path, said the NIA judge while pronouncing the sentence order.
"Two life imprisonments have been given to Yasin Malik, besides that 10 years of rigorous imprisonment in 10 offences and Rs 10 lakh penalty, all the punishments will run concurrently," Advocate Umesh Sharma said. Malik can appeal the verdict in the High Court. He was later taken to Tihar Jail from the NIA court.
Yasin Malik was convicted by a special NIA court on 19 May, a week after he pleaded guilty.
Meanwhile, court-appointed amicus curiae, Advocate Akhand Pratap Singh, said, "Yasin Malik has been awarded life imprisonment under Section 17 UAPA, and a fine of Rs 10 lakh, sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment under 120B and a fine of Rs 10,000 and other sections of IPC and UAPA."
What Did the Court Order Say?
"The convict's crimes are of a very serious nature. These crimes were intended to strike at the heart of the idea of India and intended to forcefully succeed J&K from Union of India," the NIA court said.
"The crime was serious as it was committed with the assistance of foreign powers and designated terrorists. The seriousness of the crime is further increased by the fact that it was committed behind the smokescreen of an alleged peaceful political movement," added the NIA court.
"The convict claims that he followed the Gandhian principle of nonviolence and spear- headed a peaceful nonviolent struggle. However the evidence on the basis of which charges were framed and to which the convict has pleaded guilty speaks otherwise," it held.
"Therefore, in my considered opinion, it is high time that it is recognised that terror funding is one of the gravest offences and has to be punished more severely," Judge Praveen Singh said.
"The convict has been convicted of offense of terror funding under section 17 of UAPA. The convict was a part of the group which had been receiving funds that were raised for terrorist activities and he had received Rs 10 lakh on April 29, 2015, from accused Ahmad Shah Watali," the order read.
What Happened Earlier in the Day?
Earlier in the day, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) sought the death penalty for Malik. The NIA told the court that Malik was responsible for the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the erstwhile state, as per IANS.
Malik, the chief of militant group Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was produced at the court in Delhi amid heavy security.
Malik told the court in his defence that he had started following "Gandhian principles" after abandoning violence.
"After dropping weapons, I have followed principles of Mahatma Gandhi. Since then, I have been following non-violent politics in Kashmir," Malik said.
He also asked why would the Indian government, led by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, give him a passport and let him travel and speak all over the world if he was a criminal.
He also challenged the intelligence agencies to prove if he had been involved in any terror-related activities or violence in the last 28 years.
The court also sought an affidavit from Malik regarding his financial assets and asked him to submit a report on his financial assessment.
Shutdown in Parts of Srinagar
Meanwhile, a shutdown was observed in several parts of Srinagar ahead of Malik's sentencing. There were also some reports of protests and stone pelting and protest demonstrations from a few places in Srinagar. The police had to resort to firing tear gas shells to bring the protests under control.
Most shops and businesses in Maisuma and nearby areas as well as some shops in Lal Chowk had been closed, PTI reported officials as saying.
Security forces were deployed to maintain peace in case any disturbances to law and order occur.
Thermal scanning and inspection by a dog squad also took place in the Delhi court before the hearing on quantum of sentence.
'Not Satisfied, Want Death Penalty for Him': IAF Officer Ravi Khanna's Widow
Reacting to the news of Yasin Malik's life sentence, Nirmal Khanna, whose husband, Indian Air Force squadron leader Ravi Khanna, was killed in a terror attack allegedly carried out by Yasin Malik, said, "I honour whatever punishment the judges have awarded. They know better what punishment should be given in such a case. I'm 100% sure justice will be given to me."
"It's justice for victims of terror attacks carried out by him (Yasin Malik). Some might be satiated, but I am not satisfied as I want the death penalty for him in my case," she added.
Charges Against Malik
The case against Malik was over the JKLF carrying out attacks on security forces in 2017 along with other terrorist organisations, like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Hizb-ul-Mujahiddin (HM), and Jaish-e- Mohd (JeM).
Malik was booked under several acts of terrorism, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Malik on 10 May had pleaded guilty to all charges including the UAPA.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS.)