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Warm reception to Bitta Karate in Srinagar on his release

Written by: Staff

Srinagar, Oct 27 (UNI) Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, a top militant of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), was given a warm reception here today on his release from jail after 16 years.

On October 23, a TADA court in Jammu granted bail to Dar, who faces 19 militancy related cases, after remaining behind bars at the Kot Balwal jail for 16 years. He was arrested by the Border Security Force (BSF) here on June 22, 1990.

Dar was a top commander of the JKLF when the outfit was underground. The JKLF, which spearheaded the ''movement'' for an independent Kashmir, declared a unilateral ceasefire in 1994 and decided to launch a non-violent movement.

Dar was allegedly instrumental in the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. Several Kashmiri Pandit organisations, including Panun Kashmir, condemned his release, saying it was a ''sad reflection'' of the Jammu and Kashmir government's ''internal structures shielding the inhuman enemies of the nation.'' Dar was handed over to his family members before the Eid-ul-Fitr on October 25. A rival faction of the JKLF, led by Javed Mir, had decided to give a warm reception to Dar on Friday.

A large number of supporters gathered at his residence at Guru Bazar early this morning and then he was taken in a procession to Eidgah where he offered 'fateha (prayers)' at the graveyard of all those killed since the outbreak of violence in the Kashmir valley in late 1980s.

Later addressing his supporters, Dar said he was happy to be among them after being in jail for about 16 years.

He supported the ongoing peace process in Jammu and Kashmir and said this should continue in the larger interests of the people and the state as well.

The presiding officer of the TADA court, N D Wani had on Monday, ordered that Dar be released from custody forthwith for four months if he furnished a bail bond and personal surety to the tune of Rs one lakh each.

He further directed that he should not leave the state without prior permission of the court. The judge observed that the accused had been facing imprisonment for the past 16 years while his co-accused had already been granted bail.

Mr Wani said Dar had been detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) which was earlier quashed by the Supreme Court. The judge said in view of the fact that there was inordinate delay in framing of charges against the accused, he was forced to languish in jail for years together.

Reacting to his release, Panun Kashmir convenor Agnishekhar said in a statement in New Delhi that ''it is a shocking reflection of the state government's apathy towards serving the needs of justice that its law enforcing agencies failed, even after 17 years, to frame charges against a person who publicly proclaimed having lost count of the Pandits he had killed brutally in cold blood.'' The state government's callous approach with which it treated the prosecution of a person responsible for perpetrating genocide of the Kashmiri Pandits was highly condemnable, he added.

''We see this latest development as yet another assault on the Indian nation by fundamentalist subversive forces who receive covert assistance by deeply infiltrated administrative structures of Jammu and Kashmir,'' Dr Agnishekhar said.

Appealing to all citizens of the country to protest against the ''grave miscarriage of justice'', he said the order established that the displaced Kashmiri Pandits, already victims of neglect and indifference, were now at the mercy of judicial technicalities.

''The national consciousness, concerned citizens, responsible media and proactive civil society must decide for itself what warrants prosecution -- waging war against the country or killing countless innocent people,'' Dr Agnishekhar said.


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