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Pandits urged to return to Valley

Bitta, responsible for triggering the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, is asking them to come back, writes Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2006 16:30 IST
Arun Joshi

Until yesterday he was seen as a man who terrorised Kashmiri Pandits and triggered their exodus from their homes in the Kashmir Valley.

But on Monday, Farooq Ahmad Dar, better known as Bitta Karate and accused of murdering Kashmiri Pandits during 1989-1990, denied killing Kashmiri Hindus and wants them back in the Valley.

"I would welcome them," he told a news conference in Srinagar. He spent almost 16 years in jail and was set free on bail on the eve of Id-ul-Fitr.

Bitta Karate – themanwho perfected the martial art of karate to have a suffix of Karate to his nickname Bit (kid), which was modified to Bitta - cited his acquittal by Supreme Court as an evidence of his innocence.

But there are very few who trust his words. And at least, there is no one in the Kashmiri Pandit community to lend ears to his words. His words of confession of killing Kashmiri Hindus which he said, wereuttered under duress, still resonate into the ears of the Kashmiri Pandit community members.

In 1991, Bitta Karate had stated to a fortnightly video newsmagazine NewsTrack of India Today group - that he had killed several Hindus, all on the directions of his commander. He belongs to JKLF - the group that initiated the violent secessionist campaign in the Valley in late 1980s.

He has now shifted his loyalties to one of the JKLF factions headed by Javed Ahmad Mir.

Ajay Chrungoo, Chairman of Panun Kashmir - a leading organisation of Kashmiri Hindus settled in Jammu and other parts of the countryafter theyfled the Valley said, "The entire thing shocking and outrageous that a killeris trying to claim innocence after having killed so many people. We are the victim community and he is trying to rub salt into our wounds by asking us to return to the land where he has shed the blood of our community members."

What is more shocking to him is that "a pattern is emerging for the past 15 years whereinthere has been a systematic failure of our legal system to gear up to meet the exigencies to bring terrorists to book. We are helpless."

First Published: Nov 07, 2006 16:17 IST