Indian court to take up Kashmiri pro-freedom leader's death sentence in August

Indian court to take up Kashmiri pro-freedom leader's death sentence in August

National Investigative Agency approached Delhi High Court last week seeking death penalty for jailed leader Yasin Malik

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) - An Indian court on Monday fixed the hearing of a plea seeking the death penalty for jailed Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik in a terror-funding case for Aug. 9.

Last week, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) approached Delhi High Court and sought the death sentence for the leader presently serving life imprisonment in a Delhi jail.

The move was criticized by many political leaders in the Indian-administrated Jammu and Kashmir, including a former chief minister.

On Monday morning, as the hearing of the case began before a division bench of Delhi High Court, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the NIA, said: “Propagating one region to be separated from the country makes the case ‘rarest of rare’."

The court, issuing a notice to Malik in the case, ordered the matter be listed on Aug. 9.

“In view of the circumstance that Yasin Malik, the sole respondent in this appeal, has inter alia pleaded guilty to a charge under section 121 IPC (Indian Penal Code) which provides for an alternate death sentence, we issue notice to him in both the application and appeal through jail superintendent,” Indian news website Live Law reported on Monday.

During the hearing, Mehta compared Malik with slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Last year, a trial court awarded a life term to Malik in a terror funding case. He had pleaded guilty without contesting the charges. The trial court had rejected the NIA's plea for capital punishment.

The National Investigation Agency court then handed down Malik two life sentences, five 10-year sentences, and three five-year terms, all of which will run concurrently.

Malik has been under detention at Delhi’s Tihar Jail since 2019 along with several other top pro-freedom leaders and activists, some of whom have also been charged in the same case.

Malik, 57, is the chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which advocates independence on both sides of Kashmir. He was one of the first Kashmiris to pick up arms against Indian rule in Kashmir in the late 1980s.

India banned the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front in 2019.

Malik was arrested in the aftermath of a suicide bombing in which 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed on a highway in Kashmir in 2019.

Kashmir, a Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.

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