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September 18, 2012 12:52 am

In Lurch, PaK Returnees Rue Their Decision

Aadil Wani

Srinagar, Sept 17: Scores of residents, who had crossed the Line of Control for arms training in Pak-administered Kashmir, and, taking the rehabilitation bait of the government for return to normal and dignified life with their families in their native place, have found themselves in the lurch.

Ruing their decision to return to their roots, a group of people said they had returned in response to the rehabilitation policy announced by the Jammu and Kashmir government to enable them resume their normal life along with their families.

Talking to reporters at the Press Enclave here, Aijaz Ahmad of Soura, Srinagar, said he had crossed the LoC 22 years ago in 1990 for arms training. However, dissociating from militancy, he got married in PaK in 1995 and has five children, including three daughters, now.

“On my return home, I find myself and my family in total distress as the discharge certificates of my children issued are not accepted by the Board of School Education and they are denied admission in a school.

Authorities are reluctant to issue travel documents to enable my family members meet their relatives,” Aijaz Ahmad told Kashmir Observer, adding he was running a stationary depot in PaK while the local administration provided them Rs 1,500 per head from the migrant fund.

He alleged the government’s rehabilitation policy was a hoax even as thousands of his fellow travelers wanted to return home. However, in view of the plight meted out to those who had already returned, many of them may have second thoughts. After being assured of rehabilitation, he said, the government had left them high and dry, he alleged.

Another returnee, 45-year old Muhammad Lateef Pir, who had gone to PaK in 1994 for arms training, returned to the valley early this year along with his 30-year old wife, Saira, from Karachi, and a 3-year-old son.

“As a taxi driver in Karachi, my monthly income was around Rs.30,000. I cannot drive a vehicle here as my driving license is not honored. I have no identity card nor a voter ID card and not even a state subject certificate. I have made a grave mistake by returning,” he said.

Pir said police had refused to issue a character certificate which could have enabled him get a job. “Everybody I approach for help asks what I was doing in Pakistan,” he added.

His wife, Saira, said she followed her husband who decided to return to his roots in the valley.

“My husband gave up weapons training. He lived a normal life there after marrying me. We were well settled,” she said. “But, now I repent our decision. I am worried about the education of my son who suffers for none of his faults.”

As a 16-year old, Muhammad Yousuf, had crossed the LoC for arms training in the ’90s. “I got married at Muzaffarabad and have three children now. I used to eke out a comfortable living while working in a papier machie unit. However, on my return, my children are unable to get admission in a school,” he lamented, asking the government to clarify what their status was after their return home.

Syed Muneer, 42, from north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, returned to the Valley early this year.

“I decided to come back without any weapons training in Pakistan but worked honorably to earn a living. I worked in the town planning sector and earned a respectable living,” Muneer said.

“I find myself in an unenviable position. I got my child admitted in a local school but the lack of proper identity of his father is a hanging sword over my son’s head,” he said.

“The much trumpeted rehabilitation policy has failed to carry conviction with the returnee as most of them find themselves in a pitiable condition,” said Muneer’s relative.

Eight other people who had responded to the rehabilitation offer staged a protest demonstration against official apathy towards their plight. “Although many have applied for permission to return in response to the rehabilitation policy, the government is believed to be silent over their requests,” a protester told reporters.

Meanwhile, a family from Haji Nar (Karnah) had crossed over to PaK in 1983 and two of its youth, Muhammad Ashraf Lone and Zahoor Ahmad, had got married there. Having returned home in 2008, the family finds itself in extremely pitiable conditions.

Talking to reporters, Muhammad Ashraf’s wife, Poshmali, said the family was living in total destitution. “While Ashraf’s brother and mother beg for their sustenance in a Srinagar locality, the remaining family are cursing their plight in Karnah,” she said, adding her daughter died recently as she could not afford her treatment. (With inputs from agencies)

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