When JKLF chairman Yasin Malik was arrested and prevented by the state to distribute the relief among the Doda earthquake victims this week, it was a flashback of the scenes of early nineties when people from rural areas of Kashmir used to send relief to their urban counterparts since the continuous clampdown on urban spaces had made livestock scarce and the life of ordinary people difficult. Jagmohan, the then Governor of J&K, ordered ban on any such activity. The move was then understood as a ‘stiff-statement’ by the establishment to break the resolve of freedom among people.
Malik, one of pioneers of the armed struggle in valley, launched a tirade against the Congress, saying that it was pursuing a communal agenda in Jammu and Kashmir. “Congress claims to be a secular party but it is not. My cavalcade of relief meant for Muslims as well Hindus of the quake-affected areas was stopped. The drivers were thrashed at the behest of the Congress high command in Delhi. It was a political decision,” he said.
As the word of his arrest spread, JKLF supporters pelted stones at police personnel posted in the Maisuma area, forcing the law enforcing agencies to use batons to chase them away.
Malik originally came to prominence as a militant area commander under Ishfaq Wani, the chief commander of JKLF who was killed in an encounter with Indian troops. In 1994, he renounced violence after his release from jail. Since then, he and his organization have called for a peaceful method for settlement of the Kashmir Conflict. He supports the return of Kashmiri Hindus to the valley.
Malik was arrested in October 1999 under the Public Safety Act and was again arrested on March 26, 2002 under the draconian POTA. He was detained for almost a year. In recent times, Malik has had one-to-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). This journey lasted for one year during which Yasin Malik and his colleagues visited hundreds of villages of Kashmir on a signature campaign.
Malik is a self-confessed follower of Allama Iqbal’s poetry and writings of Imam Gazali, besides being influenced by the struggle of Che Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary.
Kashmir watchers believe that Malik’s shift of policy to seek an internal solution with India after his alleged secret meeting with the Prime Minister of India led to the separation of its senior JKLF leaders from the party.