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India

Decades On, 12 Kidnappers Of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s Daughter Rubaiya Still At Large

Though 24 have been accused in Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping case, charges were framed against Malik and just nine others in January last year.

Mufti Mohammed Sayeed with his daughter Rubaiya Sayeed after she was released by militants in 1989. (File Photo)

WHILE THE government has been promising swift justice in all the past undealt criminal cases, many of the accused whose acts shook the nation long ago roam free even today. The names of such criminals include those who were accused of politically motivated serial murders, established terror attacks, and even the kidnapping of the daughter of the then Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.

It was on December 5, 1989, when the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) decided to kidnap Rubaiya Sayeed, an intern doctor and the daughter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) patron, said former RAW Chief Amarjeet Singh Dulat who was heading Jammu and Kashmir’s Intelligence Bureau back then.

On December 8, at about a quarter to four in the afternoon, when Rubaiya was about to reach home in a minibus, a group of armed terrorists who were pretending to be co-passengers stopped the bus. They pulled her out, forced her into a Maruti van, and took her to a hideout in North Kashmir. The van was reportedly exchanged for a Maruti car at Nowhatta, where the JKLF militant and now its chief Yasin Malik also boarded it.

Reportedly, they had fled to Sopore where Rubaiya was kept in a junior engineer’s house and later at a leading industrialist’s residence too. Meanwhile, the intelligence agencies were cluelessly raiding locations in the dark, making wild guesses. JKLF asked for the release of the jailed militants who had been a nightmare for India. The militants were – Gulam Nabi Bhat, Mohd Altaf, Noor Mohd Kalwal, Javid Zargar and Abdul Hamid Sheikh.

On the very next day of the abduction, Zargar was replaced with Abdul Ahad Waza. He was instrumental in boosting militancy in Kashmir given his meeting, along with Bhat, with JKLF chief Amanullah Khan and Pakistan army officers in Pakistan Administered Kashmir in 1987.

Besides the two, there was also Abdul Hamid Sheikh, who was a part of the first Kashmiri group (HAJY) that was trained in Pakistan in early 1988. At the time when the kidnapping took place, he was incarcerated with a bullet injury and was receiving treatment for the same.

According to the demand, the five militants were released on the day Rubaiya was freed from captivity. She was directly flown to Delhi where she met her father. The militants, all the five, have largely been untraceable since and Rubaiya has stayed away from media interviews. 

It has been over three decades and most of the criminals involved in the kidnapping are yet to be brought to the book. Very recently, a Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (TADA) court charge-sheeted just 10 of the 24 total accused in the kidnapping. While two were killed post the kidnapping, at least 12 have never been caught. The CBI was initially investigating this matter.

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But things have been murky around Rubaiya’s kidnapping. She was the daughter of the Home Minister, yet had no security. A former IAS officer, who headed the erstwhile state’s information department, said, “At that time, the valley was rife with stories of youths making their way to Pakistan to take up arms, though the State Information Department did its best to project that the situation was well under control. The abduction exposed the hollowness of the security, administrative and political apparatus.”

The records from Jammu and Kashmir Police reveal that post-Rubaiya’s abduction, at least 5,700 such abductions took place, yet there were no negotiations by the government with the militants. Most of those abducted had returned only as deserted dead bodies. JKLF has been accused of various killings and notably, one of its earlier members Mushtaq Zargar has a charge of over 32 murders. Zargar is also seen as one of the brains who executed this kidnapping of Rubaiya. Bitta Karate, another aide, who on camera accepted to have murdered tens of Kashmiri Pandits, is also yet to be sentenced.

Back when this kidnapping happened, a Crisis Management Committee (CMG) was formed and Chief Secretary Moosa Raza; Ved Marwah, then Director-General of National Security Guards; and Jammu and Kashmir IB chief AS Dulat were immediately sent to Srinagar.

Ved Marwah in his memoir ‘Uncivil Wars: Pathology of Terrorism in India’ wrote, “No one was in command either in New Delhi or in Jammu and Kashmir.”

While the court has been quick to frame the charges against Malik and his other associates in a terror funding case, for about three decades, the court could not frame the charges against the JKLF men involved in this kidnapping case.

Though 24 have been accused in this kidnapping, charges were framed in January last year against Malik and just nine others. The nine others included Ali Mohammad Mir, Mohammad Zaman Mir, Iqbal Ahmad Gandroo, Javed Ahmad Mir alias Nalka, Mohammad Rafiq Pahloo alias Nana Ji alias Saleem, Manzoor Ahmed Sofi, Wajahat Bashir, Mehraj-ud-Din Sheikh and Showkat Ahmad Bakshi.

The special magistrate had noted that given the confessional statements by Mohammad Zaman Mir and Ali Mohammad Mir, “sufficient grounds exist’’ that Yasin Malik, Ali Mohammad Mir, Iqbal Ahmed Gandroo, Manzoor Ahmed Sofi, Mehraj-u-Din Sheikh and Rafiq Ahmed Pahloo have “committed the offences of entering into a criminal conspiracy, kidnapping Rubaiya with an intention to murder and keeping her in wrongful confinement”.

Apart from them, Mohammad Zaman Mir, Javed Ahmed Mir, Wajahat Bashir and Shoukat Ahmed Bakshi were “charged with criminal conspiracy, keeping Rubaiya under wrongful confinement and provisions of TADA Act”.

The ones that were named in the charge sheet by the CBI back then, yet could not be traced till date are at least a dozen. They include Halima, Javed Iqbal Mir, Mohammad Yaqub Pandit, Riyaz Ahmed Bhat, Khursheed Ahmed Dar, Basharat Rehman Noori, Tariq Ashraf, Shafat Ahmed Shangloo, Manzoor Ahmed, Gulam Mohammad Taploo, Abdul Majeed Bhat and Nissar Ahmed Bhat.

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