The sentence has prompted street protests outside Mohammad Yasin Malik's residence in Kashmir's main city of Srinagar.
An Indian court has sentenced Kashmiri pro-freedom leader Yasin Malik to life in prison in a "terrorism financing" case.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) court handed down Malik two life sentences on Wednesday, five 10-year sentences, and three five-year terms, all of which will run concurrently.
The court clarified that the life sentence means imprisonment until death. Malik also has to pay a fine of around $12,900 (1 million Indian rupees).
Malik was convicted last week of funding terrorism, waging war, and disturbing peace in Kashmir. The NIA had earlier said that Malik pleaded guilty to all charges.
He has been under detention at Delhi’s Tihar Jail since 2019 along with several other top pro-freedom leaders and activists, some of whom have also been charged in the same case.
Malik is also accused in the killing of four Indian Air Force personnel in the early 1990s, but today’s sentence only pertains to the terrorism funding case.
'Following non-violent principles of Gandhi'
After his conviction on May 19, Malik was given time to rethink his guilty plea as he was representing himself in the case and had no legal assistance.
Malik, 56, is the chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which advocates independence on both sides of Kashmir. Malik was involved in several rounds of talks and backchannel contacts that previous Indian governments held with Kashmiri groups.
He was arrested in the aftermath of a suicide bombing in which 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed on a highway in Kashmir in 2019.
During the trial, Malik told the court that he had been issued a passport on the orders of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee because he “was not a criminal.”
Vajpayee was at the helm when India and Pakistan launched a peace initiative in the late 1990s, a thaw that was seen as a precursor to a possible breakthrough in the Kashmir dispute.
Malik, according to the reports, also told the court that he had worked with seven Indian prime ministers, asserting that he would “retire from politics and accept the death penalty” if Indian intelligence agencies could prove his involvement in any terrorist activity or violence in the past 28 years.
Malik said he had been following the non-violent principles of India’s founding leader Mahatma Gandhi ever since the JKLF gave up arms in 1994 and launched a peaceful political movement for Kashmir.
Kashmir, a Himalayan region, is administrated by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan. According to several human rights organizations, thousands have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989.