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Yasin Malik’s journey: From gun-toting Kashmir rebel to Gandhism | Conflict News



From holding a Kalashnikov rifle to becoming a self-avowed follower of Mahatma Gandhi, the last 30 years of legendary Kashmiri rebel leader Yasin Malik’s life have remained a struggle against the Indian rule in the disputed region.

Malik, 56, was sentenced to life in prison last week after he was convicted in a terror-funding case, to which he pleaded guilty.

Malik is among key separatist leaders in Indian-administered Kashmir who advocate a peaceful resolution to the decades-old conflict and warn of the dangers the lingering dispute poses to peace and development in South Asia.

Malik heads the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), a group that advocates for a Kashmir state independent from both India and Pakistan, who each govern over parts of the Himalayan region but claim it in its entirety.

The JKLF was among several separatist groups banned by the Indian government in 2019 for their “secessionist ideology”. The ban was followed by a widespread crackdown against separatists and rebels, most of whom continue to remain in jail.

Later that year, shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected to power, the Hindu nationalist government headed by Modi scrapped Indian-administered Kashmir of its special status, divided it into two federal territories and imposed an unprecedented security shutdown in the valley, during which thousands of Kashmiris were arrested and imprisoned.

Malik’s conviction is being seen as a final effort by Modi’s government to leave Kashmiri pro-freedom groups without leadership – one of the objectives behind India’s 2019 moves.

Demonstrators throw stones towards Indian security forces amid tear gas smoke fired by the police during a protest ahead of Yasin Malik’s sentencing, near his residence in Srinagar [File: Danish Ismail/Reuters]

Taking up arms

Malik was born in 1966 in Maisuma, a locality in the heart of Indian-administered Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar. Before revocation of the region’s special status, Maisuma was known as the “Gaza of Kashmir” for its relentless anti-India protests.

For Malik, the defining moment came in 1987 when the Indian government was accused of rigging the assembly elections in collusion with the National Conference, the main pro-India political party in Indian-administered Kashmir that has governed the region for most of the last seven decades.

In that election, Malik was campaigning for Muhammad Yusuf Shah, one of the leaders of the Muslim United Front (MUF), a conglomerate of parties demanding a referendum to break away from India. Analysts say the MUF was on its way to victory when the polls were rigged.

The rigging of the 1987 polls sparked unprecedented anger in the region, which saw thousands of Kashmiri men, including Malik, crossing over to Pakistan for arms training and returning to fight against the Indian rule.

Shah is now based in Pakistan with the name Syed Salahuddin and heads the Hizbul Mujahideen, one of the prominent anti-India armed groups.

Malik returned from Pakistan in 1989 to head the JKLF, the first outfit to declare an armed rebellion in Indian-administered Kashmir.

In December of the same year, the group kidnapped Rubaiya Sayeed, the 23-year-old daughter of then Federal Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, also a prominent Kashmiri politician.

Sayeed was released five days later after New Delhi agreed to JKLF’s demand of releasing five of its members.

Turning a Gandhian

Malik was arrested in 1991 on several charges, including Sayeed’s kidnapping. When he was released in 1994, he was a changed man and decided to give up guns.

Malik’s JKLF declared an indefinite and unilateral ceasefire with the Indian government. Since then, Malik had been advocating for a non-violent struggle for the region’s independence.

“He was everyone’s leader here. He lived a life of suffering for standing for a cause. We all are grieving,” one of his neighbours Ahmad, who did not want to be identified by his first name for fears of reprisal, told Al Jazeera.

After giving up arms in 1994, Malik took command of the JKLF’s political wing and became a leading campaigner for Kashmir’s freedom. Syed Ali Geelani, a veteran Kashmiri leader who rivalled Malik’s stature within the separatist camp, died last year.

Syed Ali Geelani with Yasin Malik and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq during a protest.
Geelani, centre, flanked by Malik, right, and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, left, during a protest [File: Mukhtar Khan/AP]

While it became routine for Malik to be detained by the police and then released over protests for freedom, he remained persistent in mobilising crowds, organising shutdowns, and making calls for the boycott of elections held by India in the disputed region.

Malik’s JKLF was part of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a joint alliance of pro-freedom groups which was formed to give a political face to the separatist movement in the region, till the APHC split in 2003.

After the JKLF quit Hurriyat, Malik embarked on a Safr-e-Azadi (journey to freedom) – a year-long journey through the Kashmir territory to mobilise people for self-determination.

In 2006, Malik met the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but their dialogue did not reach any breakthrough. New Delhi continued to keep Indian-administered Kashmir under a tight noose, triggering large-scale street protests.

In 2010, Malik joined hands with top separatists Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and formed a coordination committee to spearhead anti-India protests in the valley.

In the aftermath of the killing of top rebel commander Burhan Wani in 2016, the three top pro-freedom leaders again came together to form a Joint Resistance Leadership. The group led months-long agitation in the region over Wani’s killing by issuing protest calendars and calling for shutdowns.

The next year, Malik wrote an open letter to the United States administration for its “failed promises” on the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

“On the persuasion of US, UK, and European envoys, I took the most unpopular decision of unilateral ceasefire endangering my and the lives of my colleagues. [Despite] all odds and provocations by Indian forces to go back on the path of violence, I stood firm to my decision”, he wrote.

Over the years, Malik said in many of his interviews that he was also disillusioned with the position of India’s left-liberal class on Kashmir, accusing them of being “firefighters” of the Indian state in the region.

“It has become an unfortunate routine that in crisis time, (Indian civil society members) come to Kashmir, accuse their own government, sell big dreams to the people of Kashmir, but as soon as the crisis is over they pack their bags,” he said in a 2013 interview to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.

Kashmiri political experts call Malik one of the “tallest leaders in the region”.

“[By] giving him a life sentence, despite the fact that top Indian leadership, including former prime ministers, held negotiations with him, the Indian government wants to send a message that separatism in Kashmir would not be tolerated at any cost,” the analyst told Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity.

He cautioned that Malik’s sentencing “could be counterproductive as there is huge anger penting up in the valley and a small trigger could lead to violent street protests”.

“By deciding not to contest charges against him, Malik has also put a question mark on the whole judicial process and the independence of the Indian judiciary,” he added.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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