An Open Letter
Muhammad Yasin Malik
This letter has been released by the family of Muhammad Yasin Malik, Kashmiri Resistance Leader, who is currently incarcerated in Tihar Jail No: 7, New Delhi, India. In protest of his illegal detention and trumped-up charges, Malik will begin a fast unto death from 1st April 2020.
To whom it May Concern
Ladies and Gentlemen: With due respect, I was arrested in 1986 when I was a 12th class student on a charge of publishing stickers of Independent Kashmir. I was sent to the red sixteen-interrogation center for 15 days and then three months in Police lock-up. When I was released, I formed a student organization, namely the Islamic Students League. It was the most famous student organization in Kashmir. In the year 1986, a political forum came into existence in Jammu Kashmir namely Muslim United Front (MUF). It was a forum of different religious, political and social organizations. MUF invited Islamic students League to become constituent of this forum and we accepted this invitation. I was chosen to represent our organization in the executive council of the Muslim United Front (MUF). The J&K assembly elections were scheduled In March 1987. In the executive meeting of the Muslim United Front, there was a debate about contesting in these elections. MUF decided that in case of winning these elections, it will bring a resolution in JK assembly for resolution of the Kashmir dispute. ISL told MUF, that though it was ready to support MUF in elections, but will not field any candidate to contest. ISL supported the MUF election campaign and people of Jammu Kashmir, in general, voted for it but on the result date, the winners were declared as the loser and the losers as the winner. An arrest spree was unleashed and I was arrested from the counting hall, sent to an interrogation center, tortured which gave me blood infection and as a result was shifted to The Police Hospital Srinagar. It was at the said hospital where I was diagnosed with a damaged heart valve. I along with hundreds of members was detained under Black Law, the Public Safety Act (PSA). After our release from jail, we the followers of non-violence got convinced that there was no space for a non-violent democratic political movement in India. It is very unfortunate that the country which claims Mahatma Gandhi as its guide, a man who presented the idea of non-violence to the whole world and inspired leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and many others like these. It is a sorry state of affairs that today in a country which calls Gandhi Ji as its father of the nation, not even a small space for a non-violent political movement is permitted. It is an irrefutable fact that had the British Empire not provided a genuine political space to Mahatma Gandhi and his cohorts, their non-violent movement would not have sustained and succeeded. It is known to everyone that during the freedom struggle of India there were two schools of thought fighting for the freedom of India. One represented by Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ashfaq-Ullah, Ram Prakash Bismil, Raj Guru and many others who believed in armed struggle and the second one represented by Gandhi Ji and his friends who believed in non-violent struggle. It is a fact that the British Government arrested Gandhi Ji and other congress leaders many times but never sent them to any torture center. There was a genuine political space for Gandhi’s peaceful struggle and it was because of the fact that the British used to call the congress party as a venting knob of a pressure cooker.
When we, the non-violent political activists of Kashmir, failed to find any space for peaceful democratic politics, we got compelled to tread an armed path in 1988 under the banner of Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). The whole world knows that Kashmiris have no history of violence and also that starting an armed struggle was not our desire but it was rather a compulsion.
On 06th August 1990, I was arrested by Border security force (BSF) as commander in chief of the JKLF. On 8th August 1990, I was shifted to Tihar Jail in Delhi. In the month of November 1990, I was shifted to a guest house at Mehrauli, where the then IG BSF Ashok Patel, Special director Mr. Roy @ Dr. Mathur, and the then DG police J&K G.N. Saxena used to pay frequent visits to me. These officers were trying to convince me to have dinner with the then prime minister of India Chandra Shekhar Ji. I refused this offer and was shifted to central Jail Agra (UP) in February 1991. BSF Chief Ashok Patel and Special director Mr.Roy used to visit me in this jail, rather a mental asylum, pursuing me to start a political process. On 24 February 1992, I was shifted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) from Agra Central Jail because my health had badly deteriorated. At AIIMS, I was operated upon and one of my heart valves was replaced with an artificial one. IB Special Director Mr. Roy along with Deputy inspector general IB Mr. Sharma came a number of times to see me at said hospital. Indian civil Society members like Kuldeep Nair, Mr. Raj Mohan Gandhi (Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi) and Ex-chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Rajender Sachar Ji came to see me in the hospital many times. I was shifted to Farm House in Mehrauli, which served as a sub-jail under Tihar Jail. At this In Mehrauli Farmhouse, the then Governor of Utter Pradesh (UP), the then Governor of Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Ex- justice of Indian Supreme Court Justice Madhoskar came to see me. They again tried to convince me for starting a Political route and start a dialogue process. Late Kuldeep Nair and Justice Rajender Sachar also came to meet me at Mehrauli Sub jail number of times with the same message. They wanted me to give peace a chance again. During this incarceration period, one day I was taken to a house in Maharani Bagh Delhi where the then Indian Home Minister Rajesh Pilot along with many senior officers especially Wajahat Habib-ullah were present there. I came to know that it was a dinner meeting. During the said dinner Rajesh Pilot, IB officers, and Wajahat Habibullah talked about the nature of Kashmiris and asked from me that as People of Kashmir have no history of violence, how had I and my colleagues turned to arms. In reply, I told them everything about the violence unleashed by the state against our peaceful political struggle. The reply from Indian friends was that Kashmiri’s response to state aggression and lack of political space was justified. Indian friends also said that they lacked information and true knowledge about the happenings in Jammu Kashmir for which they were highly repentant. After acknowledging my stance, Indian friends requested me to ponder upon their request of giving one more chance to the non-Violent peaceful movement. Mr. Kuldeep Nair, justice Sachar, Governor AP, and Governor UP and Supreme Court justice Madhorkar again came to me with the same proposal separately at Mehrauli sub-jail. There were many more meetings with Home Minister Rajesh Pilot, Wajahat Habib-Ullah and other higher officials at Maharani Bagh house. American (US) government, British (UK) government and many other international players’ diplomats were on board too constantly pursuing the same idea. Everyone was asking me to give peace one more chance. I was told that if I shunned the armed path and returned to peaceful non-violent struggle, we would be provided with a genuine political space and efforts will be made for the resolution of Kashmir dispute through meaningful dialogue process between all relevant parties. The situation on the ground and above all commitments from all the above-mentioned parties especially from the Indian state about political space, the process of a negotiated settlement and that all militancy related cases registered against JKLF cadres and myself will not be pursued further provided enough material for me to consider this offer. I accepted transformation without surrendering my ideology and after my release in May 1994, held a press conference in Srinagar and declared a unilateral ceasefire. I pledged to follow a non-violent path and with God’s grace to date am adhering to that pledge. The announcement of a ceasefire in 1994 was not an easy job. It was, in fact, the most dangerous and unpopular decision. I was declared as a traitor by many. I miraculously escaped a bid on my life when I was kidnapped by some militants. Many of my colleagues lost their lives too but I and members of JKLF stood firm to our decision and pursued the path of non-violent struggle against all odds. It should be noted that at the time of my declaring ceasefire, as per the Government records and statement, there were more than 20,000 active militants in Kashmir.
In the year 2000, Indian Prime Minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared the famous Ramzan ceasefire in Jammu Kashmir and started a comprehensive dialogue process. Special Director Mr. Ajit Kumar Doval who is now the NSA of India met me in Delhi. He arranged a meeting with the then Director IB Mr. Sham Data and then national Security Advisor Mr. Brijesh Mishra separately. Both gentlemen told me that PM Vajpayee was serious about the dialogue process for resolving the Kashmir Issue. They appealed to me to support this Ramzan ceasefire and peace process announcements. I and other leaders’ resistance movement wholeheartedly supported the Vajpayee Ramzan ceasefire as well as his dialogue process publically. In 2002, I started a signature campaign throughout the whole of Jammu & Kashmir. The purpose of this Signature Campaign was to promote a non-Violent mode of struggle in Kashmir and to support a peaceful dialogue process that can resolve the Kashmir dispute. It took me two and a half years to visit every village, hundreds of schools, colleges and other places in Kashmir. I was able to collect 1.5 Million signatures through this process. In 2006, I had formal meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi. I presented 1.5 Million signatures of the people of Jammu Kashmir and assured support for his dialogue process with both Pakistan and Kashmiri Leaderships. This process kept moving smoothly and in 2009 the then Home Minister of India Mr. Chidambaram started a covert dialogue process with Kashmiri leadership. I too met him a number of times during that process and discussed various aspects and ways of resolving this vexed human issue. In the year 2010, an all-party parliamentary delegation visited Kashmir and met the leadership here. They visited me too and discussed the way forward on peace and dialogue process.
Ladies and Gentlemen: from 1994, after the declaration of my unilateral ceasefire, I and my colleagues in JKLF have remained firm on the non-violent struggle. There is not a piece of single evidence about me or my JKLF colleagues who have ever since supported any act of armed struggle overtly or covertly or provide any kind of help to any armed group. It is also a fact that from last 30 years Militancy related cases registered against me and my colleagues were not pursued by any government and all governments from 1994 led by prime ministers like P.V. Narasimha Rao, H.D. Deve Gowda, I.K. Gujral, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Man Mohan Singh to a large extent honored the pledge made by the Indian Government in 1994 to us. Even though the first five years of the present government led by PM Narendra Modi there was no trial of Militancy related cases against me and my colleagues. But suddenly from 2019 TADA court in Jammu started the trial of these 30-year-old militancy related cases which is actually against the spirit of the ceasefire pledge made in 1994. It is a fact that people live with trust and honor pledges and covenants even with their bitter enemies. Right now I am incarcerated in Tihar Jail No 7, booked under Unlawful activates Act. A concocted case has been framed against me by NIA too and on the other hand, a trial is going on in Jammu TADA Court where without hearing me or giving me a chance to represent me, I and my colleagues have been charge-sheeted on 16th March 2020. Though I have every legal right to be presented physically before the court, the Judge and the CBI at the behest of government are not allowing me to present myself before the trial Court physically. I am being presented through a Video link conference, where neither I am able to hear the arguments of lawyers nor am I being allowed to speak. I have already withdrawn my counsel and will send the same in writing to the judge, but the Judge is not ready to listen to me and is behaving like any Prosecuting or police officer. He only makes everyone listen to his orders and whenever I tried to speak, he mutes the volume or goes offline. This actually shows his and bias and prejudice against me and my friends. These cases are actually politically motivated cases and the prejudice shown by the judge and others have made things worse and complicated. Taking all these things into consideration, I have reached the conclusion that I must go on an indefinite hunger strike against this authoritarian attitude and dishonoring of the 1994 ceasefire pledge by the Indian government. My “FAST UNTO DEATH” will start from 1st April 2020, Insha’Allah. I have relentlessly worked hard for the freedom of my nation, for a peaceful negotiated settlement of Jammu Kashmir issue and for the promotion of non-violence. I will prefer an honorable death instead of disgraceful life. Please note that I have already pledged to donate all my vital organs to the needy ones after my death and I hope everyone will honor my last wish in case I breathe my last during my fast.
Long live resistance, long live freedom….
Note: For any further details per the letter contact: 8082889447.
The letter has been copyedited