When Kavitha Kalvakuntla rose in Parliament to speak, she left Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other senior BJP leaders stunned. For 25 years, the BJP thought it had a monopoly over the issue of Kashmiri Pandits. But the TRS MP’s short speech took the wind out of their sails — so much so that the party’s patriarch, L.K. Advani, had to get up and endorse her view.
But the ripples of what Ms. Kavitha spoke about will be felt in the Kashmir Valley. She demanded a retrial in the case of terrorist Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, who is accused of killing at least 20 people, most of them Kashmiri Pandits. His first victim, as per his own admission, was a young businessman, Satish Kumar Tickoo. He was murdered on February 2, 1990, outside his home in Srinagar.
After spending 16 years in jail, Karate was released on bail without conviction. Judge N.D. Wani, while releasing him, remarked that the “allegations levelled 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.”
Karate is a free man today while his victims have given up on justice. When he was released, Tickoo’s father Prithvi Nath was aghast. He would only mumble about his home in Srinagar which he said was “three-storeyed and had 47 windows.”
In the last few years, RTI queries filed by Pandit activists had been stone walled. Responding to several queries about Karate, the Home Ministry only said it had “no information” about him.
The other case in which Ms. Kavitha asked for a retrial pertains to the murder of four unarmed personnel of the Indian Air Force — Squadron leader Ravi Khanna, Corporal D.B. Singh, Corporal Uday Shankar and Airman Ajad Ahmad — on the outskirts of Srinagar on January 25, 1990. The case in which JKLF chairman Yasin Malik is one of the main accused is with the CBI (under file-number S/90-SCU.V/SCR-II). But no charge sheet has been filed so far. Neither the government nor the IAF has shown any interest in pursuing this case.
Courtesy : The Hindu