New Delhi, 26 May
‘Jack’, ‘John’ and ‘Alpha’ were among the protected witnesses of the NIA who helped the banned JKLF chief Yasin Malik.
These names were given to important protected witnesses with hidden identities for their safety, in the terrorism financing case in which the National Investigation Agency (NIA) seized nearly 600 electronic devices during raids at 70 locations.
Malik, convicted for terror funding offences, was on Wednesday sentenced to life imprisonment by a Delhi court.
There were about four dozen protected witnesses, but code names were given to only a select few, which could help build an undisputed case, officials informed of the developments in the case.
The case was investigated by a team of NIA led by Inspector General Anil Shukla, a 1996 batch IPS officer of AGMUT cadre, whose then director Sharad Kumar was heading the organisation.
“The verdict is certainly a reward for the hard work of the team probing the matter. I am very satisfied with the punishment. He (Yasin) played tactfully by pleading guilty to escape the death penalty. But still, his punishment should serve as a deterrent to those who are dreaming of waging war against the country,” Kumar told PTI from his home in Gurgaon.
Shukla, who is now posted in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and is seen as a man who ended stone-pelting incidents in the Kashmir Valley by withholding funds to separatists, insisted on following the policy of having a protected witness in the case. The decision was taken so that there is no shortage, the officials said.
While framing the charges against Malik, 66, the special NIA judge had relied on protected witnesses ‘Jack’, ‘John’ and ‘Golf’, who had mentioned about the meetings between Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Malik. November 2016 along with other Hurriyat leaders called for protest and bandh.
Another protected witness had said that it was Geelani and Malik who used to send them protest calendars for campaigning in newspapers.
The NIA laid more emphasis on confession statements as they were recorded before a judicial magistrate where the accused have to confirm that they are giving it without pressure from the investigating agency.
While writing his confession, the entire process was videographed and no investigating officer was present in the court premises during the proceedings. Later, if these accused turn hostile, the NIA will file a charge of perjury against them.
Countering the much talked Gandhian path adopted by Malik, the court observed that at this juncture it has been prima facie found that there was a criminal conspiracy which led to large-scale protests, which resulted in large-scale violence and arson.
“The object, as discussed earlier, was to separate J&K from the Union by overthrowing the government. It has been argued that these were done with the intention of following the Gandhian path of peaceful non-violent protests. However, the evidence prima facie says something else. The protests were not only violent, they were intended to be violent. Even otherwise, prima facie Gandhian principles have been falsely claimed,” the court said.
Referring to the Chauri Chaura incident of 1922 when citizens set fire to a police station in Gorakhpur, in which 22 occupants were killed, the court observed that Mahatma Gandhi had called off the non-cooperation movement after the incident, But the accused put pressure on these protests, despite the massive violence in the Valley.
“Thus, prima facie they were not following the Gandhian path, but their plan was directly from Hitler’s choice of playbook and brown shirt march. Its purpose was to intimidate the government with a large scale of violence and it was nothing less than a plan of rebellion. Thus I think there is prima facie sufficient evidence that this was also a conspiracy as is punishable under section 121A of the IPC,” the court said.
The Brown Shirts were the name given to the Sturmabteilung (Assault Division), a violent group of Nazis led by Ernst Röhm, who sowed the seeds of discord in Germany, which was emerging as a young but unstable liberal democracy in the 1930s. .
The group of hooligans, mostly retired soldiers, dressed in brown robes, who had fought in World War I, thrived on violent targets of left-wing supporters and Jews with a promise to rebuild Germany.
The Thug group played a key role in Hitler’s rise as leader of Germany, leading to social unrest and attacks on “non-Aryans” especially Jews in the 1930s.