The Pakistani wives of former Kashmiri militants who returned from to J&K under a rehabilitation scheme for surrendered militants announced by the previous UPA government have once again urged the Governments of India and Pakistan to address their grievances on humanitarian grounds. They have also appealed to the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to either provide them travel documents to visit their parents in Pakistan and Pakistan Administered Kashmir or deport them back. The women said their plight shouldnt be politicised and which, sadly, it has been. Despite their intermittent protests, the central and the state governments have chosen not to respond to their demands. These women have been occasionally holding protests in Srinagar, one of which was held in February on the eve of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state.
The women came to Kashmir in the years after 2010 as part of the rehabilitation policy announced by the then National Conference-Congress government for the Kashmiri youth who had crossed over to Pakistan or PoK for arms training and wanted to return to a normal life in the state.
Around 450 youth had returned, many of them with their wives, under the rehabilitation policy. The state government had opened channels for them to return without arms and resume normal life. Government had selected four entry points Poonch-Rawalakote (Poonch), Uri-Muzaffarabad (Uri), Wagah (Punjab) and Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi from where the youth could enter the state following necessary clearance. But after the 2014 takeover of the BJP government at the centre, the plan was all but shelved. This, despite the fact, that the then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who headed a coalition government with the BJP had suggested legalising Nepal route for those Kashmiri youths who have now shunned the path of violence and wished to return to their homes.
But the wives of these youth have since been disallowed to return to Pakistan and PaK, even on an occasional visit. They complain of having no travel documents and also that their children are not being admitted in local school as they hail from the other part of Kashmir.
Also, many of these women live in miserable conditions after being divorced by their husbands. This has left them without any property and documents. According to an estimate, around fifty of these women have been divorced by their husbands.
Though their repeated protests and pleas to the government to address their demands should have by now elicited a response, nothing of the sort has happened. The government has chosen to neither reject or agree to the demands. As a result, the miserable plight of these women has only worsened. Their situation is inherently humanitarian in nature and deserves an earnest redressal. Here’s hoping that after elections are over,, the new government wakes up to their plight.