Ruing On Rehab

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True to form, the state government and the union home ministry appear to have thought out the hyped militant rehabilitation policy purely within the security matrix, with no consideration of what may be regarded as a hundred odds and ends attendant upon such an ambitious step. Going from the accounts of several valley youth who had gone across the LoC to train as militants but have now returned by taking up the government’s rehab offer, the one major casualty could turn out to be the concept of security itself. For, mostly, these “returnees” have been left to fend for themselves with no wherewithal to start a new life. What is to prevent them for falling once again into the path of violence out of disillusionment over the government’s promises, and their inability to make a semblance of a living? One is reminded of the elaborate procedures, the government had outlined in order to integrate such individuals back into society and normal living, but the condition of the returnees suggests that all such measures and proposals have been thrown out of the window.

Surely, the government must have had, through intelligence, family and other sources, a fair idea of the social condition of the rehab candidates whose kin must have been debriefed in detail about what it would entail to sign on to the rehab policy. So authorities cannot claim to have been taken by surprise when several beneficiaries have turned up with families and children in tow – wives of Pakistani nationality and children born and brought up in Pakistan. The government cannot claim that this is an unforeseen complication. And yet judging from the plight of the returnees, no provisions appear to have been made to address issues thrown up by such factors. As a matter of fact, several returnees have been compelled to take recourse to the media to highlight their condition. How could the government have fared so badly on a scheme literally of flagship importance in making a political point? From the accounts of those affected, it seems that the government has been highly remiss in anticipating and addressing various aspects of a policy which could have established its bona fides in several areas and had positive long-term consequences. On the contrary, its report card paints a dismal picture of cavalier carelessness on part of those supposed to implement the policy. Why, otherwise, would the returnees be ruing their decision today?

At the seminal level, the entire argument of the rehabilitation policy revolved around the humanitarian aspect of the problem as it evolved two decades down the line. The government itself had cited families of the militants urging for their safe return on account of the pathetic life they were constrained to live across. Time and again had political authority stressed on its desire to see these sons of the soil lead normal lives back home. But this entire exercise has begun to become unravelled because of red-tape. Schools will not accept the returnees’ children for admission because they don’t recognise discharge certificates from authorities across. A driver cannot earn a livelihood because his driving licence (issued across the border) is not valid here – and similar other irritants which have made “normal” life impossible for them. Unless the government wants this humanitarian gesture to go down as a bad joke, it must take up the problems confronting the returnees in earnest, and at least ensure that their children are not deprived of schooling and a chance at a dignified, productive life.

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