New Delhi: ‘Jack’, ‘John’ and ‘Alpha’ were among the NIA’s protected witnesses who helped nail banned JKLF chief Yasin Malik.
These names were given to important protected witnesses, with hidden identities for their safety, in the militancy funding case in which the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had seized around 600 electronic devices during its raids at 70 places.
Malik, who had pleaded guilty for the militancy funding crimes, was sentenced to life by a Delhi court on Wednesday.
“There were nearly four dozen protected witnesses but code names were given only to selected few, who could be of help in making a watertight case,” officials privy to the developments of the case said.
The case was probed by a NIA team led by Inspector General Anil Shukla, a 1996-batch IPS officer from AGMUT cadre, with the then Director Sharad Kumar heading the organisation.
“The verdict is definitely a reward to the hard work of the team that probed the case. I am very much satisfied with the punishment. He (Yasin) played smart by pleading guilty to escape the death sentence. But nevertheless, his sentencing should serve as a deterrent to those even dreaming of waging war against the country,” Kumar said from his home in Gurgaon.
Shukla, who is now posted in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and is seen as a person who ended stone pelting incidents in Kashmir valley by choking the funds to separatists, had decided to follow the policy of having protected witnesses in the case so that there are no loopholes, the officials said.
While framing charges against 66-year-old Malik, the special NIA judge had relied on protected witnesses ‘Jack’, ‘John’ and ‘Golf’ among others who mentioned about the meetings between Syed Ali Shah Geelani, now dead, and Malik in November 2016 along with other Hurriyat leaders calling for protests and shutdown.
Another protected witness had stated that it was Geelani and Malik who used to send him the protest calendar for publicity in newspapers.
The NIA stressed on confessions statements more as they were recorded before the judicial magistrate where the accused have to confirm that they are giving it without any pressure from the investigating agency.
While penning down their confession, the whole process was videographed and during the proceedings no investigating officer was present in the court premises. Later, if these accused turned hostile, then the NIA would file a perjury charge against them.
Countering the much-talked Gandhian path adopted by Malik, the court said at this juncture it has been prima facie found that there existed a criminal conspiracy pursuant to which large-scale protests, resulting in violence and arson at massive scale, were orchestrated.
“The object, as discussed earlier, was secession of J&K from the union by overawing the government. It has been argued these were intended to be peaceful non violent protests following the Gandhian path. However, the evidence prima facie speaks otherwise. Not only were the protests violent, they were intended to be violent. Even otherwise, prima facie a false claim has been laid to the Gandhian principles,” the court said.
Citing the Chauri Chaura incident of 1922 when citizens burnt a police station in Gorakhpur killing 22 occupants, the court said Mahatma Gandhi had called off the non-cooperation movement after the incident but the accused, despite large scale violence engulfing the valley, pressed on with these protests.
“Thus, prima facie they were not following the Gandhian path but their plan was straight from the play book of the likes of Hitler and the march of the brown shirts. The object was to overawe the government by the sheer scale of violence and was nothing less than a plan for insurrection. Thus I find that prima facie there is sufficient evidence that this was also a conspiracy as is punishable u/s 121A IPC,” the court said. PTI