‘I was compelled to confess I had killed Pandits’

  • Javaid Malik
  • Publish Date: Mar 28 2016 11:28PM
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  • Updated Date: Apr 6 2016 5:38PM
‘I was compelled to confess I had killed Pandits’

 

Bitta Karate responds to allegations of playing a key role in driving out Kashmiri Pandits

 

Mention “Pandit migration” and inevitably the name Bitta Karate crops up. It's the alias of Farooq Ahmad Dar, the former militant who now heads his faction of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front. Dar is held up by the Indian state and rightist Pandit outfits as proof that it was a campaign of targeted violence by militants – Kashmiri Muslim militants, it's implied -- that drove the Hindu minority out. To them, he's the definition of “evil incarnate”.

But Dar, who has spent over 17 years in prison, denies ever killing a Pandit. But didn't he go on TV in the 1990s – he was one of Kashmir's most wanted militants then – and talk about killing Kashmiri Pandits on the order of his late commander Ishfaq Majeed Wani?

Dar claims he was “compelled” to “confess”. Speaking with Kashmir Ink, he says, “I gave that statement under duress. I was then being subjected to third-degree torture and to save myself from more pain and agony, I gave my confessional statement under duress.”

The former commander, who has kept a low profile since being freed from jail a few years ago, adds, “We have no animosity with the Pandits, and we want them to return with dignity. They are a part and parcel of the Kashmiri society. I hope they don’t become instruments in the hands of agencies, which want to use them to implement their divisive designs in Kashmir.”

Pressed on the allegations by some Pandit outfits that he and his militant outfit were instrumental in forcing them to leave the valley, he responds, “This is sheer propaganda, unleashed by a section of the Pandits that dances to the tune of the RSS. We had picked up the gun to fight injustice, and even after leaving the armed struggle, we're committed to the Kashmir cause.”

Dar, instead, holds the then governor Jagmohan responsible for the Pandit exodus. “Soon after Jagmohan was appointed governor, he gave unbridled powers to the security forces. Just two days after he took charge, more than 55 peaceful protesters were massacred at Gaw Kadal on 21 January 1990. It was the beginning of the era of massacres in Kashmir,” he says. “Jagmohan wanted to send the Pandits to Jammu so that he could finish off the Muslims in Kashmir.”

Dar is all for the Pandits returning to the valley, but he's against settling them in separate townships. “The RSS wants to settle as many Hindus as it can in these townships so that the demography of Kashmir is changed, its Muslim character diluted. If the Pandits want to return, they should settle alongside their Muslim brethren and live just as they did before 1990,” he says. “Any move to settle them in separate colonies can lead to a Gaza-like situation. It's a dangerous design and we will oppose it tooth and nail.”