Separatist leader from Indian Kashmir hospitalized after prison hunger strike
New Delhi, Jul 27 (EFE).- Kashmiri separatist leader Yasin Malik, who is serving two life sentences in an Indian prison on terror financing charges, was admitted to a hospital after going on a hunger strike for four days, hospital sources told EFE on Wednesday.
Malik was admitted to Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, the facility’s director and medical superintendent BL Sherwal told EFE, although he declined to comment on the leader’s state of health.
The separatist leader has been lodged in the Tihar prison since May after he was convicted of funding terrorist acts under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act – often criticized for the sweeping legal powers it grants to the authorities – and sentenced to life imprisonments, although the National Investigation Agency had asked for a death sentence.
Indian media outlets reported that prison authorities had first tried to unsuccessfully convince Malik to end his fast – which he began after alleging his case was not being investigated properly – and that he was being given intravenous liquid since Jul. 24.
Subsequently, when his blood pressure started to fluctuate, he was shifted to the hospital for treatment.
Born in 1966 in India-administered Kashmir, Malik was one of the pioneers of an armed struggle seeking the independence of the disputed region, but his organization – the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front – gave up violence in 1994.
Considered one of the most prominent separatist leaders, he was arrested along with hundreds of other Kashmiri activists and civil society members in August 2019 when India revoked Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status and for months imposed unprecedented restrictions on communications and protests.
As part of the decision, the region has been divided into two separate territories directly controlled by New Delhi.
India and Pakistan both claim full sovereignty over the Kashmir region since the subcontinent’s partition in 1947 when it gained independence from the British empire.
The disputed territory is divided between the two countries by means of a de-facto border, the Line of Control, and New Delhi has repeatedly accused Islamabad of backing cross-border terrorist activity, even as a separatist insurgency has raged since 1990s in one of the world’s most heavily militarized regions.
Pakistan has denied these allegations and flagged human rights abuses in India-administered Kashmir. EFE