A Delhi court in May this year awarded Mr. Malik a life imprisonment in the 2017 terror funding case and for organising street protests in 2016

Facing three separate cases ranging from kidnapping to murder and money laundering, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik’s decision to go on a hunger strike from July 22 is seen as a last-ditch effort to change legal course of the cases.

A Delhi court in May this year awarded Mr. Malik a life imprisonment in the 2017 terror funding case and for organising street protests in 2016, with Jammat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and Hizbul Mujahideen supremo Syed Salahuddin among the 12 other accused in the case.

Mr. Malik, who is pleading the cases himself, is now pressing for his physical presence before the court in Jammu when it hears the 1989 kidnapping case on August 23. He has demanded that he should be allowed to do a cross-examination of the witnesses. The abductee, Rubaiya Sayeed, had already identified Mr. Malik as her abductor earlier this month in the case. Ms. Sayeed is the daughter of former Union Home Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and sister of former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The court has asked Ms. Sayeed to be present during the next hearing in Jammu on August 23.

Meanwhile, in a fresh letter written from the Tihar Jail in New Delhi ahead of his hunger strike, Mr. Malik penned his journey in separatist politics since 1986, when he was a Class 12 student.

“I was sent to the interrogation centre for a fortnight followed by three months of lock-up on the charges of publishing stickers of an independent Kashmir,” reads the letter, made public by Mr. Malik’s Pakistani wife Mushaal Hussein Mullick.

Mr. Malik, in the letter, claimed that armed JKLF members decided to shift to a democratic non-violent movement after he held conversations with then Union Home Minister Rajesh Pilot, IAS officer Wajahat Habibullah, journalist Kuldeep Nair, Justice Rajinder Sacchar and senior Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers.

“American and British diplomats in New Delhi also came up with a similar proposal to me. I accepted and in 1994 declared a ceasefire. There were over 2,000 active militants when I declared the ceasefire,” Mr. Malik claimed in the letter.

He claimed that no Prime Minister after 1994 pursued any case against him or JKLF members. “They all followed the agreement of ceasefire in spirit,” Mr. Malik said.

In 2011, Mr. Malik claimed, the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation, a think-tank, facilitated a marathon meeting with the RSS. “Again, a question arises that instead of keeping an arm’s length from me, even RSS-linked organisation Vivekananda Institute chairperson Admiral K.K. Nair frequently invited me to his residence,” the letter reads.

Drawing parallels between the Indian freedom struggle and separatism in Kashmir, Mr. Malik said, ”Behind the success of Mahatma Gandhi’s consistent non-violent movement was a truly democratic and liberal space provided by the British empire, which accepted dissent and free speech.”

Referring to his stay in a mental asylum in Agra, Mr. Malik said he would much prefer the insanity of those confines than the insanity that subjugation has inflicted on our nation.

Charges were framed against Mr. Malik in two separate cases, immediately after the J&K High Court in 2019 decided to vacate the court stay of 1995 on the trial of Mr. Malik.

The Jammu Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) court in 2020 framed the charges against all seven accused, including Malik, in the case related to the killing of four Indian Air Force (IAF) officials, including Squadron Leader Ravi Khanna, in an attack in Srinagar on January 25, 1990. The trial in the 1989 kidnapping of Ms. Sayeed is in final stage.