Ex-Militants, Kin Protest, Demand Rehabilitation

SRINAGAR: Family members of scores of former militants who returned to their home held a protest in Press Enclave here on Tuesday against the alleged harassment by security agencies. 

Wives of most of these returnees, belonging to Pakistan and Pak administered Kashmir, lamented their return to Kashmir stating that the ‘Rehabilitation Policy’ for militants has proved a hoax as despite living peacefully they were not only being harassed frequently but also deprived of the provisions of the rehab policy.

“I want to return to Pakistan as my husband who lives a peaceful life is still being taken as militant here. He is not being given passport and everywhere he is suspected and dubbed as militant,” Zeba a woman from Rawalpindi said.

She said that they returned under the surrender and rehabilitation policy that J&K government announced in November 2010, More than 100 militants returned with their wives and children and we are still facing serious problems in Kashmir.

The protesters demanded immediate rehabilitation as was done with ex-militants in Punjab and north-eastern states.

“We demand rehabilitation, the same way as ex-militants in Punjab and north-east were granted. We too are humans and should be allowed to live freely. We are not being given identity cards and our children are being denied admission in schools,” Saifullah Farooq, an ex-militant, told reporters.

The former militants, demonstrating under the banner of Jammu and Kashmir Human Welfare Association, alleged that the state government was doing nothing to mitigate their sufferings. “I can’t go to Delhi as I fear that I might be arrested by Delhi Police as they arrested Liyaqat Ali Shah. This militant tag will remain always with us,” Farooq said.

A woman from Pak administered Kashmir said that her husband had taken up arms “under certain circumstances” but, after shunning them, had a right to lead meaningful life. Some of the protesters said they would end their lives if the government did nothing to “mitigate their sufferings”.

DGP: We’ll Look Into It 

Director General of Police (DGP), Ashok Prasad, said the state government was looking into the issues being faced by the ex-militants who have returned to their homes for leading a normal life. “Government is very serious about the policy and it will take some time for them to get settled. Issues like ration, schooling of children and other similar things have been paid special attention”, Prasad said and added that the government will also look into other demands of the returnees.

However, he said the issues like citizenship and validity of their degrees for higher education were major issues which will take a lot of time for redressal. “These are legal and constitutional issues which will take time, however, all other facilities necessary for them to lead a normal life are being taken care of”, he added.

The DGP said that the issue of arrest of Liyaqat Shah has already been taken up by the NIA for investigations. “We are in touch with authorities and investigation has already been started. As soon as we get a report from them, we will see into that issue as well”, he added.

Pertinently, the state government had entered into an unwritten understanding with the Centre that any youth who had joined militant ranks in 1990s and wished to return via Nepal would be allowed to do so provided he surrendered before Army or police in the Valley.  With inputs from KNS


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