India faces backlash after Kashmiri political leader sentenced to life imprisonment
Protesters shout slogans during a protest against sentencing of Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik, in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, May 25, 2022 | AP

India faced a backlash today after the conviction of iconic Kashmiri political leader Yasin Malik for funding “terrorist” activities and other crimes.

Security forces said they had “shot dead six militants” in occupied Kashmir in a 24-hour period while a female TV presenter and a police officer were killed by separatists.

Mr. Malik was sentenced to life imprisonment by a New Delhi court on Wednesday amid warnings it would promote alienation and separatism in the contested Muslim-majority region.

He is the leader of the now-banned Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, which formally renounced violence in 1994.

The separatist leader has pledged commitment to Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas of non-violent political struggle to achieve independence.

The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, a coalition of pro-India parties in the region, described his sentence as unfortunate.

“Life imprisonment given to Yasin Malik is unfortunate and a setback to the efforts for peace,” it said in a statement.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said Mr. Malik had been convicted after “a sham trial.”

“The abhorrent Indian attempts seeking to defile the legitimate struggle of the Kashmiris for their right to self-determination as ‘terrorism’ only substantiate India’s deeply etched credentials as a ‘serial violator’ of human rights and usurper of the fundamental freedoms of the Kashmiris,” a Pakistani Foreign Ministry statement said.

India and Pakistan each rule part of Kashmir while both claim the region in full.

In 2019, India formally revoked the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional autonomy and split it into two federal territories in an attempt to integrate it fully into India.

Months after the law was passed, India annexed Kashmir, sending tens of thousands of troops to the region, shutting down the internet, and arresting leading politicians.

Wednesday’s sentencing has triggered mass protests, with shops and businesses shut down across Kashmir and clashes with police.

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Morning Star

Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain. Morning Star es el diario socialista publicado en Gran Bretaña.