PoK-returned militants demand rehabilitation

PoK-returned militants demand rehabilitation

J&K government had entered into unwritten understanding with the Centre about rehabilitation of former militants

PoK-returned militants demand rehabilitation

Ex-militants, who returned from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) under the Jammu and Kashmir government’s rehabilitation policy, on Tuesday held a protest here along with their families demanding the immediate rehabilitation as was done with former militants in other militancy infested states.

Accusing the Omar Abdullah government of “cheating” them, they said, “We demand rehabilitation the same way as ex-militants in Punjab and north-east were rehabilitated. We were told that whosoever returns from Pakistan under the policy will be rehabilitated. But we have been cheated.”

Dilshad Begum from PoK, wife of one of the former militant from north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, said she along with her children want to go back to her country. “We have not come here because we had nothing to eat in our country. It was my husband Mohammad Yosuf Bhat who motivated me that we should go to Kashmir to settle with our families.

“But my children aren’t getting admission in any school here and there future seems to be bleak. We request both state and Central government that if they don’t want us to live here we should be given passports and visas to go back,” she lamented.

Her views were echoed by Aisha Begum from Rawalpindi, who had married a Kashmiri militant in Pakistan some 16 years back. “After coming to Kashmir we are being denied to live with dignity. Our and future of our children is at stake. Why did the J&K government cheat us,” she asked.

The protests come in the wake of arrest of an alleged Hizbul Mujahideen militant Liyaqat Ali Shah by Delhi Police in Gorakhpur UP while he was entering India via Nepal. But the J&K government maintains that he was a militant who had surrendered as part of rehabilitation policy and was headed to Kashmir.

Farooq Ahmad, a former militant from Kupwara, said arrest of Shah has created fear among them. “Tomorrow we too may be arrested and labelled as fidayeen. It seems the Indian government doesn’t want that we should lead peaceful life. After returning home I found claims of rehabilitation a hoax,” he said.

Ahmad said the state government should first rehabilitate those militants who are already in Kashmir and then ask others to return from across the border. “There are around 27,000 of us here but we have been left to the mercy of the God.”

The J&K government had entered into an unwritten understanding with the Centre in 2010 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.