Mohammad Yasin Malik is the hard core separatist Leader who is currently the Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) which advocates the complete separation of Jammu and Kashmir from both India and Pakistan, in order to be an independent and sovereign state as it existed before 1947.
Being one of the founding members of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), gives Malik an important place in the current scenario in Kashmir. Currently, the JKLF is a key member of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC). Malik still lives in the same old home that he has lived in since childhood, never feeling the need to move to a house in a safer environment which reflects the simple living that Malik professes to follow.
Mohammad Yasin Malik was born on 15 April 1966 in the densely populated Maisuma locality of Srinagar. He has graduated from S.P College Srinagar but has acquired most of his knowledge by self-taught methods while he served his time in various jails. Malik loves the poetry of Allama Iqbal and the writings of Imam Gazali.
In the notorious elections of 1987, the Islamic Students League (ISL) led by Yasin Malik, joined the Muslim United Front (MUF). The organization took responsibility for campaigning for the MUF in all Srinagar constituencies. According to a spokesman of the Jamaat-e-Islami, all the parties that joined in the MUF were either pro-independence or pro-self-determination. According to a Jamaat member, the ISL was recruited into the MUF to provide “street power” to counter the “hooliganism” of the National Conference, the then ruling party.
Malik campaigned for the MUF candidate Mohammad Yusuf Shah who stood for the 1987 elections from Amira Kadal, Srinagar. As the vote counting began, it became clear that Yusuf Shah was winning by a landslide. However, the opposing National Conference candidate Ghulam Mohiuddin Shah was declared the winner. Yusuf Shah as well as Yasin Malik were arrested by the police and imprisoned until the end of 1987 without a formal charge, court appearance or a trial. Widespread rigging and “booth-capturing” in the elections were reported. The police refused to listen to any complaint. The National Conference-Congress alliance was declared the winner with 62 seats in the Assembly, and formed the government.
The rigged election of 1987 is seen by most scholars as the trigger for Kashmir insurgency. Malik disagrees and says that1987 elections didn’t result in armed militancy. The Kashmir struggle was there even before 1987.
Malik renounced violence in 1994 and adopted peaceful methods to come to a settlement on the Kashmir conflict. He adopted a Gandhian non-violent struggle expressing a desire for a “democratic approach” involving the “true representatives” of Jammu and Kashmir. He offered political negotiations, but insisted they must be tripartite with both Indian and Pakistani governments and should cover the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir. This was unacceptable to the establishment. In the spring of 1995, Malik protested the holding of Legislative Assembly elections in 1995 and threatened to immolate himself.
Malik strongly believes that for viable talks where Kashmiris have to be made a party to the talks. “Without that, no solution will be acceptable to the Kashmiri people. You cannot thrust a solution on me nor can I thrust a solution on you. Everyone has to come to the table, with their own agendas. Then let the people of Kashmir see whether they can agree on something or not.”
In October 1999, Malik was arrested by Indian Authorities under the Public Safety Act and was again arrested on March 26, 2002 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; he was detained for almost a year.
In recent times, Malik has had one-on-one meetings with President of Pakistan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Prime Minister of India and other world leaders. In 2007, Malik and his party launched a campaign known as Safar-i-Azadi (Journey of Freedom). Malik was thrown out of a hotel in New Delhi with his wife and 18-month-old daughter due to his political ideology of separatism in December 2013. On January 12, 2016 Yasin Malik wrote a letter to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, opposing Gilgit-Baltistan’s merger with Pakistan.
Mohammad Yasin Malik has spared most of life in different Jails of India. It is pertinent to mention here that Government of India has recently banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front and has arrested Malik citing reasons of terror funding and waging war against State. Malik is currently under NIA custody and has been placed under the notorious PSA and shifted to Tihar Jail where his condition is said to be very critical due to his indefinite hunger strike. Unlike many political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir, Malik has never changed his opinion over the Kashmir issue.
—The author is a Freelance Writer and a Socio-political Analyst. He can be reached at: email@example.com