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Why CBI slept over Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping case for 29 years

Why CBI slept over Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping case for 29 years

Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s 23-year-old daughter Dr Rubaiya Sayeed was kidnapped by militants of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in Srinagar on 8 December 1989. The same group of terrorists gunned down four personnel of the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Rawalpora Chowk in Srinagar on 25 January 1990. Within a year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) completed the investigation and filed the charge sheets in a court. But why did it take 29 long years to start the trial?

While some of the accused remained absconding in Pakistan and at least two got killed in separate encounters, all others arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the CBI were freed on bail. During this long period, the alleged kingpin of the two terrorist acts, Yasin Malik, was encouraged to grow as a political leader and meet two Indian Prime Ministers without budging an inch from the JKLF’s goal of achieving azaadi, ‘freedom from India’.

There was no action in over a 100 murder cases filed and kept pending against Malik. In 2013, he shared the dais with the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba patron Hafiz Sayeed in Islamabad and returned audaciously back to his Srinagar residence amid a cacophony on the Indian TV channels. Nobody touched Malik.

Malik was left free not only to propagate JKLF’s slogan of azaadi from Europe to America but also to marry the girl of his choice and love in Pakistan. During her honeymoon, Mashaal Malik, a painter and alumnus of the London School of Economics (LSE), was like India’s state guest in Kashmir. Those serving at Malik’s waleema included India’s Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah.

Neither of the two episodes—which crippled the State machinery and the Indian control, leading to an unending phase of armed insurgency and political turbulence—moved towards a judicial trial until 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in an unprecedented terror strike on the Srinagar-Jammu highway on 14 February 2019.

In days of the car bomb explosion at Lethapora, the Government of India banned the Jamaat-e-Islami and the JKLF, without the security cover and VVIP status of the valley’s separatist leaders. A fresh case under Public Safety Act (PSA) was slapped on Malik. Malik was among the separatists who were arrested and shifted to Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted raids at Malik’s residence and office at Maisuma where senior officials of the rank of Inspector General of Police (CID) were known to have enjoyed midnight feasts and top journalists and diplomats like Kuldip Nayar had broken the JKLF chief’s hunger strikes.

In less than two years, the TADA court in Jammu on Monday, 11 January 2021, completed hearing on the Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping and ordered framing of charges against Malik and his nine JKLF associates. With this development, the trial has begun in one case and, according to knowledgeable sources, is about to begin in another.

<img class="wp-image-61604 size-large" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/c8aca77c34132e56e3d8c7d34c77f6e8-1024×566.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="566" /> Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik (IANS)

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Malik was a completely free bird since April 2009, when the Srinagar wing of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court stayed his trial in the TADA court in Jammu in the CBI’s charge-sheets in two high-profile criminal cases. Apparently under political or bureaucratic advice from Delhi, the CBI made no effort for 10 years to get the stay vacated. Only after the Lethapora blast, the CBI woke up and filed fresh petitions, seeking transfer of the two cases from Srinagar and trial in the TADA court Jammu.

On 6 March 2019, the CBI argued before Chief Justice Gita Mittal in Jammu that the main accused in the matter, namely Mohammad Yasin Malik, was “an influential person in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and there is every likelihood that he will influence the proceedings of the matter. Hence, in order to ensure effective adjudication of the matter, it would meet the ends of justice if the matter is transferred to the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Jammu”.

It was pointed out that the CBI had completed its investigation and submitted the challan in both the matters before the TADA court in 1990 but even the elementary process of framing the charges had not been covered in the last 29 years.

Initially the FIRs in both the matters were filed against “unknown terrorists” at Saddar police station in Srinagar. Subsequently, however, both the matters were assigned to the CBI that established the crime against Malik and other JKLF militants, and filed challans separately for trial in the designated court for TADA cases in Jammu in 1990.

On 25 October 2008, Malik filed two separate petitions in the TADA court at Jammu, seeking transfer of the trial of both the matters, from Jammu to Srinagar. After hearing arguments and counter-arguments from both sides, the judge rejected Malik’s petitions on 20 April 2009. On 30 April 2009, the JKLF chief filed two writ petitions before the Srinagar wing of the J&amp;K High Court, which stayed the trial court proceedings.

Malik had been first arrested from the businessman Zahoor Watali’s home in Srinagar along with the slain separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone’s sons, Bilal Lone and Sajjad Lone, in August 1990. Days after he was released in May 1994, Malik announced JKLF’s unilateral ceasefire with the Indian security forces.

Once in BBC’s Hard Talk, Malik admitted to the JKLF’s killing of the four IAF personnel, albeit, calling them “enemy agents, not innocent civilians''. Before his designation as Chairman of JKLF, Malik had functioned as the guerrilla group’s ‘chief commander’. He and his JKLF associates were also booked in the assassinations of the retired Sessions Judge Neelkant Ganjoo, who had convicted Maqbool Bhat in a murder case, and Lassa Kaul, the then Director of Doordarshan Kendra, Srinagar, in 1990.

In April 2007, Renee Garfinke, a professor at George Washington University, United States, claimed in her report “Personal Transformations: Moving from Violence to Peace”, released by the United States Institute of Peace, that Yasin Malik had “transformed” due to the treatment he received during a surgery by two Kashmiri Pandit doctors. The author clubbed Malik with other extremists-turned-peaceniks from Nigeria, Israel and other conflict areas, where religious extremism defined social interactions, ‘otherising’ people.

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