‘Butcher of Pandits’ back in Kashmir hometown

He was described as the ‘butcher of Pandits’, and after 16 years of custody, Bitta Karatay, the dreaded JKLF militant is back.

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Bitta Karatay got a rousing welcome after being granted bail

SRINAGAR: He was dreaded as the ‘butcher of Pandits’, and after 16 years of custody, Bitta Karatay, the dreaded militant of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) is back to haunt migrant Kashmiri pandits once again.

Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karatay was released on bail after being arrested in 1990.

According to Kashmiri pandits, Bitta was responsible for the killing of more than 30 pandits in 1990 creating a fear psychosis among the minuscule minority community and triggering their mass migration from the Kashmir valley.

Bitta’s bail came close on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision to quash his detention under Public Safety Act.

Around 56,148 pandit families migrated from Kashmir since the onset of militancy in 1990. Of these 34,690 families are living in Jammu, 19,338 in Delhi and 2,120 families in other parts of the country.

“It is shocking for us that a man who publicly proclaimed to have killed 42 Kashmiri Pandits has gone scot-free. It is also an irony that Afzal Guru was sentenced to death in the Parliament attack case though he was not personally present there, yet the man who admitted to have killed Pandits has walked free,” regretted Dr Agnishekhar, convener of Panun Kashmir, a body of migrant Kashmiri pandits.

What has made the Kashmiri Pandits angry is the state’s “failure” to try Bitta for his crimes.

“It is highly regretful that the state government did not take steps to try the man responsible for killing of pandits. I can only pray for the people at helm and advise them not to play with the emotions of Kashmiri pandits”, said /R TN Khosa, president of Kashmiri Pandit Sabha.

On the other side, Karatay was given a rousing reception in his locality at Guru Bazaar here. He was brought in a procession by JKLF (Javid Mir faction) to his area where around 200 people showered flower petals and confetti at him.

Bitta addressed his supporters and paid homage to his militant colleagues who were killed by the security forces during the last 16 years. Bitta, in his new role as political leader, supported the Indo-Pak dialogue and appealed to the leaders of both the countries to resolve the Kashmir issue.

JKLF leader Javid Mir said Bitta’s release was the victory of Kashmiri people, who have given umpteen sacrifices for achieving their goal.

“Bitta’s patience and resilience has won him accolades. Jail has not dented his love for the movement and he wants to take it the logical conclusion”, he said.

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