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The Verdict Violated

He is perhaps the longest serving detainee in India. Yet to be sentenced in any case, Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate completes 16 years –two more than a lifer- in detention. Though bailed out by the Supreme Court of India twice, Dar’s freedom is still elusive. Peerzada Arshad Hamid reports

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Srinagar, Kashmir
June 12, 2006:

Farooq Ahmad Dar alias Bitta Karate could not see the dawn of freedom even after getting bail from the apex court in India. He was set free a few times by the court, but detained under PSA again and again. In October 2005 the Supreme Court of India quashed his detention orders for the second time.

While delivering judgement on the writ petition filed by Dar’s counsel in 2005, Supreme Court of India observed that the detaining authority has not applied its mind when the order of detention against Dar was passed. Accordingly the detention order dated November 5, 2004 was set aside. Further the Court directed that Dar may be released forthwith, if not required in any other case.

Earlier the apex court had ordered Dar's release in 2004. The order was ignored by the state and Dar detained under Public Safety Act (PSA). Ignoring the directions of the Supreme Court of India again, the Jammu and Kashmir government slapped another PSA on Dar after the 2005 judgement.

So Dar reels in confinement in spite of getting relief from the apex court. Legal experts say the state can be tried for contempt of apex court.

An Introduction:
Born in Guru Bazar locality of Srinagar, Farooq Ahamd Dar, alias Bitta Karate became a household name in Kashmir in the early nineties when armed anti-India insurgency broke out in Kashmir.

A member of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, a militant outfit then, Dar was known more by his alias Bitta Karate, and considered among the front ranking JKLF activists. According to his family Karate got suffixed to his pet name Bitta because of his mastery in martial arts.

Dar’s mother Fatima still remembers the day when Dar left home, in early nineties to join the militant ranks. He was in his twenties and the anti-India armed rebellion had just broke out.

"At first he hesitated, he said he has to go out for business, but while he was leaving he told me he was going to become a militant. I was dumbstruck," says Fatima. Before joining militancy Dar helped his family business.

Dar was arrested on June 22, 1990 along with his two associates, and came to limelight soon after through a televised interview wherein Dar is said to have admitted 22 killings by him, mostly of Pandits.

In a letter written from jail to his lawyer Bhim Singh, Farooq Ahmad Dar writes about his ordeals in jail.

In his letter Dar says that he is amazed over his continued detention under Public Safety Act (PSA) time and again. He wishes that Supreme Court ought to have taken a suo motto cognizance against the J&K government for violating its directions.

Countering one of his grounds of detention that he along with fellow inmates indulged in breaking of doors and windows of barracks at Kote Bhalawal jail and raised anti-national slogans, Karate writes that he has been falsely implicated in the case.

Regarding going on hunger strike in Kote Bhalawal jail in 1991 (another ground of detention), Karate writes that he and his other jail mates were humiliated, abused and mercilessly beaten by the jail officials. In order to press for the fair treatment, hunger strike was organised as a mark of protest.

The letter also contains his ordeals that he faced in Agra jail, where he was being fed with legs and hands tied.

In his interview Dar said he was following the orders of his commanders.

Since then he has been under detention in various jails like Kote Bhalawal - Jammu, District Jail – Kathua, Central Jail Jodhpur (Rajhasthan), Agra Jail (UP), etc. Throughout his detention Dar has never been shifted to Kashmir valley - one of the demands of Dar and his family.

For Fatima it has been an endless wait. Any announcement of release or revival of the cases of detainees creates glimmer of hopes in the family.

"I have heard that life imprisonment lasts for only 14 years. Without any trail my son underwent even that. He is completing 16 years in the prison," says Fatima. To add to Fatima’s woes her elder son was killed in crossfire in 1998 while he was going to attend his duties at SKIMS.

"Even at the funeral of his brother Bitta Saab was not allowed to visit his family," says Fatima with tears in her eyes.

The family lives hand to mouth in their old house at Guru Bazar. The only decorations on the walls are Dar's photographs in locally made wooden frames.

"There presence gives me a feel that Bitta Saab is here," says Fatima referring to the pictures. Legal proceedings for Dar and visits to him in jails outside the state drain the family's little resources. Dar's associates in JKLF however visit the family occasionally, giving moral support to them, says the family.

"They do come. Javed Mir visited many a times, most of them come. They try to help at times," Fatima says.

Democratic Freedom Party leader Shabir Shah has also paid visits to the family recently. However, surprisingly JKLF chairman Yasin Malik has never visited the family.

The family now pins hopes of his release on his lawyer Bhim Singh who is fighting Dar’s case in the Supreme Court of India. But considering that his release orders were ignored twice by the state, the family is just hoping against hope.

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