The unilateral trial of Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik by a kangaroo court in India has announced a maximum sentence of the death penalty or life imprisonment. Mr Malik had been charged with “terrorist” acts, illegally raising funds, being a member of a “terrorist organisation”, criminal conspiracy, and sedition. The outcome of the trial is extremely disappointing and also infuriating for many, but this also does not come as a surprise given how the case has played out since 2019.

Many have pointed out that the charges levelled against Yasin Malik were fabricated and politically motivated and that he was virtually coerced into pleading guilty on those charges filed by the notorious National Investigation Agency. The manner in which these proceedings have played out reflects the widespread panic and unease within the Indian leadership as far as the Kashmiri freedom struggle is concerned. Though Mr Malik once was one of the most renowned leaders of the armed struggle against Indian occupation, since the mid 90’s he had advocated a democratic, non-violent movement for Kashmiri rights.

The denial of a fair trial proves that there is a broader strategy formulated by the BJP government to silence the popular and powerful voices of resistance. Another major leader, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has also been in arbitrary detention for almost three years. Such tactics however will not extinguish the Kashmiri desire for freedom, but will only add to the fervour.

The Pakistani leadership has also unanimously condemned this conviction, but it should continue to protest the continued oppression at every international forum. This is all the more important considering the global developments at this point in time. Not only is Russia being tried for war crimes in Ukraine, but there also appears to be this new found acceptance and empathy for freedom fighters in the Western world. The same principles also apply to the case of IIOJK. Though of course Kashmir does not get the same bandwidth internationally, we must continue to make this case at every opportunity we get.