Why CBI slept over Rubaiya kidnapping for 29 years?

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Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

JAMMU: Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s 23-year-old daughter Dr Rubaiya Sayeed was kidnapped by JKLF in Srinagar on 8 December 1989. The same group gunned down four personnel of the Indian Air Force (IAF) at the Rawalpora Chowk in Srinagar on 25 January 1990. Within a year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) completed the investigation and filed the charge sheets in a court. But why did it take 29 long years to start the trial?
While some of the accused remained absconding in Pakistan and at least two got killed in separate encounters, all others arrested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the CBI were freed on bail. JKLF chief Yasin Malik was declared as kingpin of the two terrorist acts.
In an unusual sequence of developments, Malik was encouraged to grow as a political leader and meet two Indian Prime Ministers without budging an inch from JKLF’s goal of achieving azaadi, ‘freedom from India’.

Now that the TADA court has sought framing of charges against Yasin Malik, it will be interesting to know how the radical terrorists behaved with Rubaiya Sayeed during her four-day captivity and what the role of JKLF supremo was. This can be verified by the medical report of the abductee, carried out after her release and before granting the custody to the family. Such a report assumes importance in the wake of controversy revolving around the sensational kidnapping of the medico when her father was Union Home Minister of India, as her release in lieu of safe passage granted to hardcore terrorists infused impetus to terrorism in the Valley.
Rubaiya was kidnapped at 3:45 p.m. on 8 December 1989, about 500 metres from her home at Nowgam when she was returning from the Lal Ded Memorial Women’s Hospital in a local mini bus. Four people allegedly forced her out of the vehicle at gunpoint into a waiting Maruti car and disappeared. At 7:00 PM, on 13 December 1989 Dr. Rubaiya Sayeed was set free; two hours after the government released the five jailed terrorists.

There was no action in over a hundred murder cases filed and kept pending against Malik. In 2013, he shared dais with the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba patron Hafiz Sayeed in Pakistan but returned audaciously back to his Srinagar residence amid a cacophony on the Indian TV channels. Nobody touched Malik.
Malik was left free not only to propagate JKLF’s slogan of azaadi from Europe to America but also to marry the girl of his choice and love in Pakistan. During her honeymoon, Mashaal Malik, a painter and alumnus of the London School of Economics (LSE), was like India’s State guest in Kashmir. Those serving at Malik’s waleema included India’s Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah.
Neither of the two episodes-which crippled the State machinery and the Indian control, leading to an unending phase of armed insurgency and political turbulence-moved towards a judicial trial until 40 CRPF personnel were killed in an unprecedented terror strike on the Srinagar-Jammu highway on 14 February 2019.
In days of the car bomb explosion, Jamaat-e-Islami and JKLF were banned and the security cover and virtual VVIP status of the separatist leaders withdrawn. A fresh case under Public Safety Act (PSA) was slapped on Malik. He was among the separatists who were arrested and shifted to Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted raids at Malik’s residence and office at Maisuma where senior officials of the rank of IGP were known to have enjoyed midnight feasts and top journalists and diplomats like Kuldip Nayar had broken the JKLF chief’s hunger strikes.
In less than two years, the TADA court in Jammu has completed hearing on the Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping and ordered framing of charges against Malik and his nine JKLF associates. With this development, trial has begun in one case and, according to knowledgeable sources, is about to begin in another.
Malik was a completely free bird since April 2009 when Srinagar wing of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court stayed his trial in TADA court Jammu in CBI’s charge-sheets in two high-profile criminal cases. Apparently under political or bureaucratic pressure from Delhi, CBI made no effort for 10 years to get the stay vacated. Only after the Lethapora blast, CBI woke up and filed fresh petitions, seeking transfer of the two cases from Srinagar and trial in the TADA court Jammu.
On 6 March 2019, CBI argued that the main accused in the matter, namely Mohammad Yasin Malik, was “an influential person in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and there is every likelihood that he will influence the proceedings of the matter. Hence, in order to ensure effective adjudication of the matter, it would meet the ends of justice if the matter is transferred to the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir at Jammu”.
It was pointed out that the CBI had completed its investigation and submitted the challan in both the matters before TADA court in 1990 but even the elementary process of framing the charges had not been covered in 29 years.
Initially the FIRs in both the matters were filed against “unknown terrorists” at Saddar police station in Srinagar. Subsequently, however, both the matters were assigned to the CBI that established the crime against Malik and other JKLF militants, and filed challans separately for trial in the designated court for TADA cases in Jammu in 1990.
On 25 October 2008, Malik filed two petitions in TADA court Jammu, seeking transfer of the trial from Jammu to Srinagar. After hearing arguments and counter-arguments from both sides, the judge rejected Malik’s petitions on 20 April 2009. On 30 April 2009, JKLF chief filed two writ petitions before the Srinagar wing of the J&K High Court which stayed the trial court proceedings.
Malik had been first arrested from the businessman Zahoor Watali’s home in Srinagar in August 1990. In May 1994, he announced JKLF’s unilateral ceasefire with the security forces.
In April 2007, Renee Garfinke, a professor at George Washington University, United States, claimed in her report “Personal Transformations: Moving from Violence to Peace”, released by the United States Institute of Peace, that Yasin Malik had “transformed” due to the treatment he received during a surgery by two Kashmiri Pandit doctors. The author clubbed Malik with other extremists-turned-peaceniks from Nigeria, Israel and other conflict areas, where religious extremism defined social interactions, ‘otherising’ people.

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