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SOURCE: THE WEEK

A court in Delhi is expected to formally frame charges against Asiya Andrabi, a controversial Kashmiri woman separatist leader, and two associates on January 18.

Andrabi had been arrested in April 2018. Andrabi, who was chief of the banned outfit Dukhtaran-e-Milat (daughters of the nation), was accused of being involved in a conspiracy and acts to “severely destabilise the sovereignty and integrity of India”, along with the two women associates. The NIA had said that the accused persons were found involved in the conspiracy and acts to severely destabilise the sovereignty and integrity of India. Andrabi faces charges including waging war against India, sedition and conspiracy to commit acts of terror.

Andrabi had openly expressed support for Pakistan in the past. She had repeatedly unfurled the Pakistani national flag and sung that nation’s national anthem, including in 2015 and 2018.

Given Asiya’s Andrabi’s high profile in the separatist movement, Pakistan’s government is highlighting her status.

On Friday, Radio Pakistan reported the country’s ambassador to the UN had appealed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to “ask India to drop ‘fabricated charges’” against Andrabi and provide her “complete legal protections”.

“The Pakistani envoy wrote that with Indian judiciary showing little proclivity to stand up for the rights of Kashmiris, there is an imminent and real threat to the life of Ms. Andrabi, and her associates, who are staring at a real possibility of a judicial murder,” Radio Pakistan reported.

Shireen Mazari, the minister for human rights in the Imran Khan government, tweeted on Friday that “Court will deliver verdict of life imprisonment (meaning till death in Kashmiris’ cases) or death on 18 Jan”, though her trial is yet to formally start.

Andrabi is considered to be among radical separatists whose group is openly supporting the demand to make Kashmir a part of Pakistan.

Her husband, Qasim Faktoo, is in prison for the last 20 years on charges of terrorism.