top of page

Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF)


Insurgency Overview


The Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) is a political separatist organization that operates in both the India-controlled and Pakistan-controlled territories of Kashmir. The group was armed until 1994 when they declared an indefinite ceasefire under the leadership of Yasin Malik, who remains the current chief of the organization. The organization split off from the earlier Azad Kashmir Plebiscite Front after Amanullah Khan, the original founder, immigrated to England {1}. The group advocates for the re-unification of the Jammu and Kashmir region and its independence from both Indian and Pakistani control. The group is one of many advocating for the independence of Kashmir and was considered an important member of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a coalition of 26 political parties that was formed in 1993 to act as a united front for the liberation of Kashmir {2}.


History & Foundations


Since the end of British rule in 1947 in the Indian subcontinent, the Jammu and Kashmir region has been at the center of a series of Indo-Pakistani wars {3}. These larger conflicts, interspersed with consistent incidents of violence perpetrated both by insurgent groups and national security forces, have left a painful legacy in Kashmir.


The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front came to be, like many other resistance groups in the area, out of the prescriptive policies of both India and Pakistan. Since the original division of boundaries in 1947, Kashmir has been denied the opportunity to make its own choices about which, if either nation, it wishes to belong to {4}. The JKLF was a way for Kashmir to make its voice heard, to express its wish for independence and the agency to make its own choices.


The organization was founded in 1977 in Birmingham, England, after splitting off from the earlier Azad Kashmir Plebiscite Front. The front then remained united until 1994, when Yasin Malik formed a splinter faction that renounced violence as a part of their political strategy. The other faction, still led by Amanullah Khan, remained relevant until March of 1996, when the last surviving members were killed, leaving Yasin Malik’s non-violent faction as the sole presence of the JKLF {5}.


Objectives & Ideology


The objective of the JKLF is to reunite the region of Jammu and Kashmir and gain independence from outside control, be it India, Pakistan, or to a lesser extent, China. Currently, Kashmir is divided with Pakistan controlling the Azad Jammu and Kashmir & the Gilgit-Baltistan regions, India controlling the Jammu and Kashmir regions, and China controlling the Shaksgam Valley and Aksai Chin regions. The JKLF seeks to liberate the controlled regions and re-unite under a national Kashmiri state.


The ideology of the JKLF is based on a foundation of national identity and has not purported to be a specifically Islamist group. However, since the end of the 1990s, the popular ideological foundations of separatism in the state have somewhat shifted from a nationalistic perspective to that of an Islamic one. This led to the prominence of the JKLF being overtaken by more outspoken Islamist guerilla groups, which are often supported by Pakistan {6}.


Military & Political Abilities


When the JKLF renounced violence in 1994, they supposedly disbanded their military wing, leaving them without military capabilities. The group is purportedly not in possession of any arms to this day, and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. Their political abilities have gradually diminished since the 2000s as other groups have taken a more active role in the struggle for independence. The current numbers of the group are unclear, especially since their existence has been banned since March 2019 under an Indian anti-terrorism law {7}.


The lead-up to this event began In February of 2019, when Adil Ahmad Dar drove an explosive-packed vehicle into a military convoy in Pulwama, killing more than 40 Indian soldiers. The Pakistan-based extremist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad released a video hours later claiming responsibility for the attack {8}. While it appears that this attack had nothing to do with the JKLF, the consequences had a broad effect. In March 2019, a month after the Pulwama attack, the JKLF was officially banned under an anti-terrorism law {9}. This was followed in August by a repeal of Article 370, which gave Jammu and Kashmir a certain amount of autonomy, by the Indian government {10}. This action means Kashmir is no longer allowed to have its own constitution, nor to make its own laws, and that outsiders will be able to purchase property there. India claims this will bring development to the region, though many dissenters claim it is another attempt to strip Kashmir of what little independence it has held onto {11}.


In March 2020, Yasin Malik was charged under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) for a 1990 attack on Indian Air Force personnel in Srinagar. In May of 2022, Malik pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment {12}. The group’s recent communications have primarily been in regard to the health and rights of Yasin Malik in his imprisonment {13}.


Approach to Resistance


The JKLF often utilized violence — both directed at private citizens and government associates {14} — until declaring an indefinite ceasefire in 1994, following one of Yasin Malik’s releases from prison {15}. Before the ceasefire, however, political violence was familiar territory for the JKLF. After a supposedly rigged election in 1987, the JKLF established its networks in Srinagar and set off two bomb blasts in 1988 {16}. Then, in 1990, a group of the JKLF, allegedly led by Malik, fired on members of the Indian Air Force in Srinagar, killing four and injuring 22. This was the attack that led to Malik’s current arrest and life imprisonment sentence {17}.


Since the ceasefire in 1994, the JKLF has limited itself to a purely political struggle {18}. Since the 2000s, the activities of the JKLF have tended to a more diplomatic approach, though their overall presence has gradually waned. While the organization and Yasin Malik have both been very popular in Jammu & Kashmir, especially among the youth, their influence has continuously diminished over the past couple of decades. This could be due to their shifting approaches to resistance and to more insurgency groups aligning with an Islamic-centered separatist ideology, which has overtaken the more nationalist sentiments that the JKLF was founded on. The shift to a peaceful approach to resistance was seen by some members of the organization, like Amanullah Khan, as unacceptable, which could have also contributed to their diminishing popularity.


While the group has fallen out of popularity, a few recent incidents have highlighted the continued struggle of the organization, aside from advocacy for Yasin Malik. In July of 2023, the Jammu and Kashmir police apprehended a group of separatists in a Srinagar hotel {19}. The men were in Srinagar for a seminar organized by the Democratic Political Movement, which is an affiliate of the aforementioned Hurriyat Conference. The police claimed that their search was conducted based on “credible information” and that the detained members were attempting to “revive” the JKLF, though where this information was coming from is unclear {20}. The JKLF also held a protest in March of 2023 against Pakistan's inclusion of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in their digital census {21}. Leaders of the group claimed that the census violates Pakistan’s constitution as citizens of PoK are not technically a part of Pakistan. The JKLF views this action as a further attempt to assimilate PoK without addressing the region's struggle and desire for independence. Khan warned that this action would have “disastrous effects” on the peace and security of Jammu and Kashmir {22}.


These incidents, along with other attacks not perpetrated by the JKLF and government retaliation, emphasize the ongoing struggle in the region and the potential for rapid change. In May of 2023, 5 army personnel were killed in the town of Poonch when an explosion was triggered by purportedly cornered terrorists. Following this, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) launched a series of raids throughout the region in an attempt to suppress the rise of new insurgency groups in the area {23}. While the JKLF was not involved in this incident, it further illustrates the dynamic nature of the conflict in the region. In September of 2023, the JKLF Sindh division organized the “Fiqar e Aman conference” in Karachi to educate people about the ideas of Amanullah Khan on the struggle for authority over existing resources in Kashmir {24}. While the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front’s action, presence, and popularity have diminished, they are still engaged in the ongoing struggle for an independent state. The fight for independence in Jammu and Kashmir appears far from over, and the fate of the JKLF remains uncertain.


International Relations & Alliances


As previously mentioned, The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front is a part of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), a coalition that forms Kashmir’s “separatist alliance.” {25} The JKLF purportedly has branches in Europe, the US, and the Middle East, though the extent of their engagement is not entirely clear. It remains unclear as to wether the JKLF has any strong international relations and alliances, and the true extent of their current activities while banned is uncertain as well.

Works Cited (MLA-style)

{1} Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, South Asia Terrorism Portal, www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/jandk/terrorist_outfits/jammu_&_kashmir_liberation_front.htm. Accessed 19 Aug. 2023.


{2} United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Pakistan: Activities of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF); Whether the JKLF Practices Forced Recruitment, and If so, Whether This Is Done in Collaboration with the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).” Refworld, Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 7 Aug. 2003, www.refworld.org/docid/485ba87419.html.


{3} “Kashmir Profile - Timeline.” BBC News, BBC, 6 Aug. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-16069078

{4} “Kashmir Profile - Timeline.” BBC News, BBC, 6 Aug. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-16069078

{5} Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, South Asia Terrorism Portal, www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/jandk/terrorist_outfits/jammu_&_kashmir_liberation_front.htm Accessed 19 Aug. 2023.


{6} United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Pakistan: Activities of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF); Whether the JKLF Practices Forced Recruitment, and If so, Whether This Is Done in Collaboration with the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).” Refworld, Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 7 Aug. 2003, www.refworld.org/docid/485ba87419.html


{7} “Conflict between India and Pakistan | Global Conflict Tracker.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, 28 June 2023, www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/conflict-between-india-and-pakistan


{8} “Kashmir Attack: Tracing the Path That Led to Pulwama.” BBC News, BBC, 30 Apr. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-47302467


{9} “Conflict between India and Pakistan | Global Conflict Tracker.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, 28 June 2023, www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/conflict-between-india-and-pakistan

{10} “Article 370: What Happened with Kashmir and Why It Matters.” BBC News, BBC, 5 Aug. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708


{11} “Article 370: What Happened with Kashmir and Why It Matters.” BBC News, BBC, 5 Aug. 2019, www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-49234708


{12} Yasin Malik: Terror Funding Case; Nia Court Convicts Yasin Malik: India News - Times of India.” The Times of India, Times of India, 19 May 2022, timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/terror-funding-case-nia-court-convicts-yasin-malik/articleshow/91658394.cms


{13} “Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front.” JKLF, JKLF, 1 Jan. 1970, jklfworld.blogspot.com/

{14} “Search Results: 55 Incidents.” GTD Search Results, GTD, www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx?expanded=no&casualties_type=&casualties_max=&success=yes&perpetrator=429&ob=GTDID&od=desc&page=1&count=100#results-table Accessed 19 Aug. 2023.


{15} Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, South Asia Terrorism Portal, www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/india/states/jandk/terrorist_outfits/jammu_&_kashmir_liberation_front.htm Accessed 19 Aug. 2023.

{16} “Search Results: 55 Incidents.” GTD Search Results, GTD, www.start.umd.edu/gtd/search/Results.aspx?expanded=no&casualties_type=&casualties_max=&success=yes&perpetrator=429&ob=GTDID&od=desc&page=1&count=100#results-table Accessed 19 Aug. 2023.


{17} Sharma, Madhur. “Explained: What’s 1990 J&K Air Force Officers Killings Case, Why Has Yasin Malik’s Hearing Been Deferred?” Https://Www.Outlookindia.Com/, Outlook, 1 Apr. 2023, www.outlookindia.com/national/explained-what-is-1990-j-k-air-force-officers-killings-case-why-has-yasin-malik-hearing-been-deferred-news-275267

{18} United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Pakistan: Activities of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF); Whether the JKLF Practices Forced Recruitment, and If so, Whether This Is Done in Collaboration with the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).” Refworld, Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 7 Aug. 2003, www.refworld.org/docid/485ba87419.html


{19} Service, Express News. “Separatists Held in Srinagar Hotel, Were Trying to Revive JKLF: Cops.” The Indian Express, The Indian Express, 9 July 2023, indianexpress.com/article/cities/srinagar/separatists-held-in-srinagar-hotel-were-trying-to-revive-jklf-cops-8822553/

{20} Service, Express News. “Separatists Held in Srinagar Hotel, Were Trying to Revive JKLF: Cops.” The Indian Express, The Indian Express, 9 July 2023, indianexpress.com/article/cities/srinagar/separatists-held-in-srinagar-hotel-were-trying-to-revive-jklf-cops-8822553/


{21} Ani. “Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Holds Protest against Census in Pok.” ThePrint, theprint, 18 Mar. 2023, theprint.in/world/jammu-kashmir-liberation-front-holds-protest-against-census-in-pok/1454861/

{22} Ani. “Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Holds Protest against Census in Pok.” ThePrint, theprint, 18 Mar. 2023, theprint.in/world/jammu-kashmir-liberation-front-holds-protest-against-census-in-pok/1454861/


{23} Singh, Jitendra Bahadur. “Nia Raids Multiple Locations in Jammu and Kashmir in Terror Funding Case.” India Today, India Today, 15 May 2023, www.indiatoday.in/india/story/jammu-and-kashmir-nia-raids-multiple-pulwama-shopian-terror-funding-case-2379233-2023-05-15


{24} Jklf, JKLF. Twitter, Twitter, 10 Jan. 2023, twitter.com/JKLF_Org/status/1612691190482083842

{25} United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. “Pakistan: Activities of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF); Whether the JKLF Practices Forced Recruitment, and If so, Whether This Is Done in Collaboration with the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).” Refworld, Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 7 Aug. 2003, Refworld, Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, 7 Aug. 2003, www.refworld.org/docid/485ba87419.html


Additional Resources


Comments


bottom of page