15 ultras reconsider returning from Pak, says PDP MLA

A legislator of the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from north Kashmir’s frontier district of Kupwara on Sunday claimed that 15 militants of his area who had decided to return from Pakistan under the “Rehabilitation Policy” are reconsidering their decision after the arrest of Liaqat Ali Shah by Delhi Police’s Special Cell.

“Fifteen militants and their families of Dardarpora (Kupwara) had applied for return from across the border. But they have decided to reconsider their decisions after the arrest of Liaqat on grave charges”, Abdul Haq Khan, PDP MLA from Lolab constituency, said.

A controversy has erupted over the arrest of 47-year-old Liyaqat Shah by Delhi Police who claimed that he was a Hizbul Mujahideen militant who had come to the national capital to plan a suicide attack during Holi. The charges, however, were contested by the Jammu and Kashmir Police who said that he was returning to the Valley to surrender.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had entered into an unwritten understanding with the Union Home Ministry that any youth who had joined militant ranks in 1990s and who wished to return via Nepal would be allowed to do so, provided he surrenders before the Army or police in the Valley.

But the recent arrest of Shah by Delhi Police in Gorakhpur of Uttar Pradesh has created a controversy. “It is very unfortunate to label the returnee as a terrorist. Where is the assurance and commitment of government that they will take care of those who return under the policy,” questioned Khan, from whose Lolab constituency hundreds of militants had crossed over to Pakistan in the early 1990’s.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday evening spoke to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and demanded that the case of arrest of Shah by Delhi Police be transferred to National Investigating Agency (NIA) for a time-bound, speedy probe.

Meanwhile, sources said, in the wake of the controversy over conflicting versions of the circumstances in which Shah was arrested, the NIA may begin probing the claims and counter-claims of the Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir Police.

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Ashok Prasad said that they were in touch with Delhi Police and are thoroughly examining Shah’s case. “I have managed to bring the form in which Shah had applied for permitting his return under rehabilitation policy”, he said.

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