JAMMU: Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief and Kashmiri separatist Yasin Malik was on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment by a Special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Delhi in a terror funding case.
The NIA had argued for the death sentence. The court has, however, awarded him two life sentences and five punishments of 10 years of rigorous imprisonment each. All sentences are to run concurrently. The court also imposed a fine of at least Rs 11 lakh on him.
The sentence was handed down for various offences under the stringent UAPA and the IPC, including waging war against Government of India; criminal conspiracy; unlawful activities; perpetrating a terrorist act and raising funds for it; membership of a terror outfit, etc.
Malik had voluntarily and after due legal consultation pleaded guilty to the charges framed against him. "His plea is accordingly accepted," the court had said in its conviction order.
In the arguments before the sentencing, Malik told the court that he will accept hanging if the intelligence agencies prove any terror-related activities involving him.
On Wednesday, he told the court that he has been following "Gandhian principles" after giving up arms. (Malik having renounced the path of violence had donned the political cloak in 1994; he had even professed to have adopted the Gandhian way of protest and was perceived to be a moderate voice in the separatist camp.
During the hearing, Malik had demanded why he was given a passport by the the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and allowed to travel and speak around the world.
The NIA told the court during arguments on sentencing that Malik was also responsible for the Kashmiri Pandits' exodus from the Valley.
With that, life has turned a full circle for chief of the banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front -- from being a Pakistan-trained militant to one of the prominent separatist faces in Kashmir.
The 56-year-old Malik has been in and out of jail several times dating back to his student activism days before the onset of militancy in 1990.
He was arrested in early 2019 in connection with a 2017 terror-funding case registered by the NIA. He married Mushaal Hussein Mullick, an alumnus of the London School of Economics, in 2009 and the couple has a 10-year-old daughter, Razia Sultana, who lives with her mother in Pakistan.
Just ahead of the pronouncement of the verdict, the Patiala House Court in the national capital was thoroughly inspected by sniffer dogs and the bomb disposal squad.
Clashes broke out between supporters of Yasin Malik and Jammu and Kashmir Police in Maisuma area of Srinagar on Wednesday and the police had to fire tear gas shells to disperse the protesters. Following the verdict, Internet services have been suspended in Maisuma and downtown areas of Srinagar.