1989 kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed

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The 1989 kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed was an act carried out by members of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front,[1] a Kashmiri Muslim militant organization, on December 8, 1989 in Jammu and Kashmir.[2] Rubaiya was the daughter of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, then the Home minister of India in the V. P. Singh government.[3] The kidnappers demanded the release of five of their comrades in exchange for Rubaiya's release. The government accepted their demands and freed the jailed terrorists. Rubaiya was kidnapped within five days of her father becoming the first Muslim Minister for Home Affairs (India).[4][5]


Rubaiya Sayeed, then 23 years old, was at the time the unmarried third daughter of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. She was then a medical intern at Lal Ded Memorial Women’s Hospital.

Modus operandi[edit]

She was kidnapped at 3:45 p.m. on December 8, 1989, about 500 metres from her home at Nowgam when she was returning from the Lal Ded Memorial Women’s Hospital in a local mini bus. Four militants forced her out of the vehicle at gunpoint into a waiting maruti car and disappeared.[3]

Demands of abductors and negotiations[edit]

Representatives of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front telephoned the local newspaper Kashmir Times at about 5:30 p.m., stating that their group’s mujahideen had kidnapped Dr Rubaiya Sayeed, and that she would remain their hostage until the government released Sheikh Abdul Hameed, a JKLF “area commander” Ghulam Nabi Butt, younger brother of the late Maqbool Butt; Noor Muhammad Kalwal; Muhammed Altaf; and Javed Ahmed Zargar.[6]

The editor, Muhammad Sofi, phoned both the Home Minister and the government to pass on the news. The chief minister Farooq Abdullah cut short his holiday in London and returned to Delhi. Senior IB and police officials, including Ved Marwah, Director General of the National Security Guards, reached Srinagar before dawn the next day.

The negotiations opened through Zaffar Meraj of the Kashmir Times, while Shabnam Lone, daughter of A.B. Ghani Lone and Maulvi Abbas Ansari of the Muslim United Front were tapped as possible channels. Later, a judge of the Allahabad High Court, Moti Lal Bhat, entered the picture. A friend of Mufti, he began negotiating directly with the militants on behalf of the home minister.

At 3:30 a.m. on December 13, 1989, two Union Cabinet Ministers, Inder Kumar Gujral and Arif Mohammad Khan, personally flew into Srinagar, believing that Farooq was coming in the way of a deal because Farooq held the view that abject surrender to the terrorists’ demands would open the floodgates.

But the government of V.P. Singh did not have the nerve to hold out. At 7:00 p.m. on December 13, 1989 Dr. Rubaiya Sayeed was set free, two hours after the government released the five jailed militants.[citation needed] Thousands of young men gathered at Rajouri Kadal to take them out in a triumphant procession, but they quickly disappeared to their hideouts.


In April 1990 the government claimed to have solved the case, after Ali Mohammad Mir, a senior government officer, was arrested and confessed during interrogation that the conspiracy was organized at the home of Mushtaq Ahmad Lone, in Chanpora; others allegedly involved included Yasin Malik, Ashfaq Majid Wani, Iqbal Gandroo and Salim Nanaji.

Salim Nanaji had driven Rubaiya to Sopore where she was kept at the official residence of another government officer, Javed Iqbal Mir. After three days, she was moved to the home of Mohammad Yaqoob, owner of a plastic factory at Sopore.


Years later Farooq Abdullah claimed that his government was threatened with dismissal by the central government if the militants were not exchanged for Rubaiya.[7] The kidnapping set the stage for heightened militancy in the state. Many say the abduction was the watershed in the Kashmir insurgency. Releasing the militants was nothing short of a blunder.[8] Had the V P Singh government not buckled down, things would have been different," they say, "The JKLF would not have harmed Rubaiya due to public sentiment.[3] In 1999 three JKLF militants Shoukat Ahmed Bakshi, Manzoor Ahmed Sofi and Mohammad Iqbal Gandroo were granted bail after 9 years.[9]

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]