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The Kashmir Files: Who Is Bitta Karate?

Image Via India Today

The Kashmir Files chronicles the devastating 1990s exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from their motherland. Vivek Agnihotri’s documentary aims to document the hardship of displaced persons and families. Farooq Malik Bitta (played by Chinmay Mandlekar), Agnihotri’s main antagonist, has been presented as a blend of Ghulam Mohammad Dar aka Bitta Karate and Yasin Malik, the faces of the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front.

Farooq Ahmed Dar was born in Srinagar in 1973. Bitta was his nickname, and karate was the term he got due to his skill in martial arts. In the 1990s, he became synonymous with fear in the Valley.
In 1988, he was handpicked by then-JKLF main commander Ashfaq Majeed Wani for armed training in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), where he allegedly got 32 days of military training in a state-sponsored terrorist training camp. Bitta then unleashed a torrent of violence. He was well-known for carrying out targeted killings and ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits. Later, in a televised appearance, he stated that he was prepared to kill his own mother or brother if he “received the orders.”

In a 1991 interview with India Today, Bitta Karate acknowledged  murdering “more than 20” Kashmiri Pandits. “The number might be more than 30-40,” he said in 1990, while the genocide was being carried out. He was dubbed the “Butcher of Pandits.”
Bitta Karate stated in this interview that he became a terrorist because he was hounded by the local authority. He went on to say that he became a “enemy” of the Indian state after crossing the border to get training in Pakistan, where the trainers “did not trust the terror recruits and were blindfolded from one location to another.”

When asked why he killed innocent people, he replied, “I did not kill innocent people. I just obeyed the orders that arrived from above.”

Bitta was apprehended by Indian authorities in June 1990 and held in custody for 16 years, until 2006. When releasing him on bail in 2006, TADA judge ND Wani stated, “The court is aware of the fact that the allegations against the accused are of serious nature and carry a punishment of death sentence or life imprisonment. But the fact is that the prosecution has shown total disinterest in arguing the case.” In October 2006, Bitta was granted indefinite bail.
He joined the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front after being released from prison. Following the Pulwama tragedy, he was detained again by the NIA in 2019 on accusations of terror funding under anti-terror legislation.

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