New Delhi, Jul 23 Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik is on a hunger strike in Tihar Jail after the government did not respond to his plea that he be allowed to physically appear in a Jammu court hearing the Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping case in which he is an accused, officials said on Saturday.
Malik, 56, head of the banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), began his indefinite strike on Friday as he had threatened to earlier this month, they said.
On Friday morning, he refused to eat anything despite repeated requests by jail authorities, the officials said. His health is being closely monitored.
Appearing before a special CBI judge through video conference, Malik had said he wanted to appear physically in the case related to the kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of the Union home minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, in December 1989.
Malik informed the court that he had written a letter to the government seeking his transfer to a Jammu jail so he could appear physically in the case and contest the allegations against him.
He had said he would like to personally cross-examine all the prosecution witnesses in the case and would wait for a government nod till July 22. If not, he would sit on an indefinite hunger strike inside the jail.
Malik began his protest when he received no information from the government about his plea to shift him to any prison in Jammu, the officials said.
The JKLF chief was arrested in early 2019 in connection with a 2017 terror-funding case registered by National Investigation Agency (NIA). Malik had pleaded guilty in the case and was sentenced by a special NIA court in Delhi in May.
Rubaiya Sayeed was allegedly kidnapped by the JKLF on December 8, 1989. She was freed from captivity five days later on December 13 after the then V P Singh government at the Centre, supported by the BJP, released five JKLF terrorists in exchange.
The case had gone into virtual cold storage and was revived after Malik was picked up by the NIA in 2019.
In January last year, the CBI, with help from special public prosecutors Monika Kohli and S K Bhat, framed charges against 10 people, including Malik, in the case that was a turning point in the Valley’s volatile history.
After the release of the five JKLF members, terror groups started rearing their heads. Rubaiya Sayeed had been kidnapped by JKLF members from Srinagar to ensure the release of their associates lodged in different jails, officials said.
On July 15 this year, Rubaiya Sayeed appeared in the case for the first time and identified Malik and three others as the ones who took her captive. Malik was present in the court through video conferencing.
“This is the person and his name is Yasin Malik. He was the man who threatened me that he would drag me out of the minibus if I refused to follow their diktat,” Rubaiya Sayeed told the judge.
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