Kashmiri Militant's Hunger Strike Gets Popular

Kashmiri Militant's Hunger Strike Gets Popular

26 May 2013
Deccan Herald
Zulfikar Majid

Srinagar: Known for his violent battle against the Indian government, Mohammad Yasin Malik’s Gandhian avatar evoked massive response when he sat on a 48-hour hunger strike at Maisuma, near city centre Lal Chowk. Besides demanding the mortal remains of Muhammad Afzal Guru and Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, founder of JKLF, who were hanged and buried in Tihar jail, Malik also demands withdrawal of charges against Valley’s all political leaders. He is the same person who used to be a militant and had spent four years in country’s various jails in early 1990s before renouncing arms in 1994 to become a non-violent crusader of independence for the state of Jammu and Kashmir. But this is not the first time that Malik sat on a hunger strike. He sat on similar strikes in 1987, 1991 and 1992 even before giving up the life of militant. However, his hunger strike which also made waves around the world began on February 11, 1992 against ‘Operation Tiger’ under which security forces used to pick up militants and would kill them in extrajudicial custody. The hunger strike caught attention of the world and many in Indian civil society started to visit Malik in his Tihar jail cell. It was during this time the likes of Rajmohan Gandhi, Kuldeep Nayar and many social activists like Tapan Bose visited Malik. Immediately after his release from jail, Malik sat on first hunger strike in July 1994 as several many militant groups were involved in extortion that included members of his group. This was quite noteworthy because Malik had used hunger strike as a tool, against his own men. Malik draws inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi. “There is no way better than hunger strike to awaken the moral conscience of the oppressor,” Malik told Deccan Herald. Asked what prompted the change of heart, Malik said, “Even before becoming a militant I used hunger strike as a tool of resistance. Even Al-Qaeda militants sit on hunger strikes in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in Cuba. It is an accepted way of protest throughout the world.”