Pak wives of ex-militants demand travel documents

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Reuters file photo

The Pakistani wives of former Kashmiri militants, who returned from Pakistan under a rehabilitation scheme for surrendered militants, on Saturday sought the intervention of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to end their plight.

Addressing a press conference at the Kashmir Press Club here, these women asked Swaraj and J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik to help them get travel documents and citizenship.

Hundreds of women who arrived in Kashmir during the past decade along with their husbands said that the state government was denying them travel documents to visit their parents in Pakistan.

The women, who have held protests earlier as well said their demands were genuine and that they shouldn’t be made part of any politics.

Hundreds of Kashmiri militants who went to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) for arms training in the 1990s returned after then Omar Abdullah-led state government introduced a “rehabilitation scheme” in 2010, for those who had crossed over to the other side of the Line of Control between 1989 and 2009.

Some of them, who had married and had children, also returned with families. Almost nine years later, the policy has left behind a trail of broken families, domestic abuse, unemployment and for many wives of former militants, a yearning for a home.

The rehabilitation policy does not give equal importance to the rights of women who returned with their ex-militant husbands, legal experts complained. “It’s an incomplete policy,” said Zafar Shah, a senior advocate in Srinagar.

Not all such marriages have failed but the question over identity and citizenship persists.

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