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Six Days when Rubaiya Sayeed was in JKLF Custody

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The plan to kidnap Rubaiya Sayeed was hatched by the overall guidance of Yaseen Malik and a meeting was held at the residence of Mushtaq Ahmad Lone

On that fateful day, December 8, 1989, Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah was in London. Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed was in Delhi. The state home minister was in Jammu. Neither was the police chief in Srinagar.

Rubaiya Sayeed after her release

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) had chosen an appropriate timing to execute the plan of kidnapping and release of Dr Rubaiya Sayeed on December 8 and December 13 respectively.

The plan was hatched under the overall guidance of Yaseen Malik. To execute the plan, the meeting was held at Mushtaq Ahmad Lone's residence in Chhanapora, Srinagar. In this meeting Yaseen Malik, Ashfaq Majid Wani, Javad Ahmad Mir alias Nalka, Shauqat Bakshi, Iqbal Gandroo, Ali Mohammad Mir were present. Accordingly, assignments were decided on individuals and groups.

On December 8 afternoon Rubaiya Sayeed came out of Lal Dad hospital. As soon as she boarded a minibus No. JKF 6975 at 4 pm, as usual for going home at Nowgam, Gulam Hassan, Mushtaq Lone, Iqbal Gandroo, Meharajudeen, Mustafa and Salim alias Nana Ji also got in. Before the last stop at Nowgam, the minibus was hijacked. The driver was forced to drive to a secluded place at Natipora. At Natipora , Rubaiya was shifted to a blue Maruti car. Yaseen Malik, Ashfaq Majid Wani and Gulam Hassan sat in the car. It was driven by Ali Mohammad Mir, technical officer of SIDCO. The car proceeded to the house of another government servant Javad Iqbal, a Junior Engineer at Sopore. Rubaiya was left there for a day.

On December 9, she was taken to the house of Mohammad Yaqoob, an industrialist in Sopore. Yaseen used his friendly contacts with Ajaz Kar, son of Congress Minister Gulam Rasool Kar, to keep easy access to the house of a top businessman from where some of the telephonic talks were carried out.

On December 8, at 4.30 pm a local newspaper got an anonymous call that "Rubaiya is in our captivity. You will be called back by 6 pm." The news spread like wildfire. Official sources declined to confirm the kidnapping.

Police phoned the Mufti's residence situated at the outskirts of Srinagar, to confirm whether Rubaiya had reached home. According to his family friend Mian Sarwar who was looking after the construction work of Mufti Sayeed's house, there was no security provided at his residence since his induction in the Union Cabinet.

At 6 pm the editor of a local newspaper again got a call with a demand of releasing five of the JKLF activists. Names of Abdul Hamid Sheikh, Ghulam Nabi Bhat (brother of Maqbool Bhat), Mohd Altaf, Noor Mohd Kalwal and Abdul Ahmad Waza were mentioned. This was informed by the newspaper editor and later by the state authorities.

At 8 pm police reached the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's residence. Mohammad Shafi, state minister holding the home portfolio, was in Jammu. The director-general of police G.J. Pandit along with Shafi flew in from Jammu.

On December 9, newspaper offices started receiving phone calls that there had been a change in the list of JKLF activists. Instead of Abdul Ahmad Waza and Gulam Nabi Bhat they wanted Sher Khan and Javed Ahmad Zargar.

State police seized the minibus in which Rubaiya was travelling. The driver of the vehicle was arrested for not informing them that a girl was kidnapped at gunpoint. Police immediately began guarding the Mufti's residence. Dr Farooq Abdullah rushed to Srinagar from London after meeting Prime Minister V.P. Singh and Congress President Rajiv Gandhi in Delhi. He appointed Chief Secretary Moosa Raza as an official spokesman to handle the situation. It was resolved in the cabinet sub-committee to negotiate with militants.

On the instruction of Prime Minister V P Singh, Arif Mohammad Khan, the then Union Minister of Civil Aviation, and I. K. Gujaral, Union Minister for External Affairs, asked Dr. Farooq Abdullah to release militants as desired by the V.P. Singh government. Dr Farooq who had just arrived from London was not at all in favour of the release of militants in an exchange for Rubaiya. He too wanted to gain political mileage out of this situation. He had to settle political scores with the Mufti Sayeed. Arif Mohammad Khan and Gujaral straightway from Srinagar airport reached Dr Farooq's residence. Dr Farooq asked for written orders from the union cabinet on the release of militants. But the V.P. Singh led government threatened Farooq with his dismissal.

Ved Marwah, Chief of NSG was fully alert to conduct an operation on the militant's hideout where Rubaiya was kept. He was sure that Rubaiya will never be harmed because the civil society pressure on militants was in their favour and his operation will be perfect and apt under the Code name Bijli. He disclosed his operation with Javad Iqbal Shah, son- in-law of Mufti Sayeed who was involved in handling the crisis as a family member in Delhi. Ved Marwah asked Javed to convey Mufti Sayeed. When Mufti came to know he scolded Ved Marwah and refused to give him the go-ahead permission.

December 11: A press conference was called at 7 pm at the police control room by Moosa Raza. Efforts were being made to get Rubaiya released, he said.

Meanwhile, authorities were approached by a family friend of Mufti. Talks between militants and the government began through mediators. The state government did not disclose the names of the negotiators.

December 12: Talks were on for a full day and again a press conference at 6.30. The chief secretary reiterated negotiations were on, Rubaiya was safe, and the government did not back out of the demand of militants. Militants give another threat of killing Rubaiya if the demand was not met by 7 o'clock as the Ammanulla Khan had announced.

At 12 o'clock newsmen were called to the police control room and told that talks had almost failed, but the government's stand was quite clear: no exchange of militants and Rubaiya simultaneously. The JKLF was demanding the release of five of their men and after a gap of three hours they would hand over Rubaiya. The Government sticks to its offer of simultaneous release. Ultimately the government succumbs to the JKLF demand.

December 13: Hamid Sheikh who was in Sher-e-Kashmir Medical Institute, Soura was brought to High Court judge Moti Lal Bhat's residence at 2.30 pm. All the police and intelligence men were withdrawn from the surroundings, according to the modalities framed by the JKLF. Others were also dropped at Bhat's residence. Later they went to different hideouts.

At 6 o'clock Rubaiya was dispatched by JKLF men from an unknown place. This information was given to Bhat on the phone. Unfortunately, the vehicle (Maruti) in which she was being dispatched developed a snag on the way. Again, a phone call to Justice Bhat to send two persons, Mian Abdul Qayoom a lawyer and Dr A. A. Guru, who was attending to Hamind Sheikh. Rubaiya Sayeed was brought in Dr Guru's vehicle and dropped in at 7.15 pm.

Rubaiya was in fact, in safe hands. According to Mia Qyoom, an advocate who assisted Bhatt and picked up Rubaiya from the militants, when the 24-year-old intern stepped down from the militant's car, she wept. "Why would she cry if they had not treated her well or kept her like their sister. They gave her clothes, a shawl, a Koran and some cassettes of Islamic culture," he said. "During these six days she didn't miss her prayers even once. She had access to TV and radio, so she knew exactly what was happening," revealed Qayoom. "She understood that the police and state authorities had bungled. She flared up when she saw the same people at justice Bhat's house.

On Rubiya's release there was no sign of trauma rather all the sympathies for abductors. Later she was married to Tamil Nadu Muslim businessman Shauqat Sharif.

Later, FIR No.339 was registered on 08.12.1989 by Police Station Saddar, under Sections 364, 368 RPC, section 3 (1) TADA Act and 25 Indian Arms Act, against unknown persons.

A CBI court in Jammu has now issued a summons to Rubaiya Sayeed, daughter of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, to appear before it on 15 July 2022 in a case related to her abduction in 1989 by the JKLF group headed by Yaseen Malik. This is the first time that Rubaiya Sayeed has been asked to appear in the case after remaining in six days captivity of terrorists in 1989.

(R C Ganjoo is a senior journalist and columnist having more than 30 years experience of covering issues concerning national security, particularly Kashmir. He has worked with several prominent media groups and his articles have been published in many national and international publications.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of OneIndia and OneIndia does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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