Centre Welcomes Omar's Rehab Plan

Centre Welcomes Omar's Rehab Plan

11 February 2010
The Economic Times


New Delhi: Home minister P Chidambaram on Thursday threw his weight behind the J&K government’s proposal to facilitate the return of Kashmiris lured to PoK to join militancy, saying that that the Centre was ready to welcome Kashmiris willing to lead a peaceful life here. This is being seen as a virtual snub to his Cabinet colleague and former J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had warned on Wednesday that the move could be misused by Pakistan as a cover to push militants across the LoC. “The idea that any Indian who had crossed over to PoK and wishes to return to India is certainly welcome,” Mr Chidambaram told reporters here. “The idea must now be translated into a scheme... The return can be facilitated through a scheme which will entail identification, screening, travel, debriefing, rehabilitation and reintegration,” he added. According to the home minister, the return-cum-rehabilitation of Kashmiri youth willing to give up militancy and return from PoK is among the recommendations made by one of working groups on Kashmir set up earlier by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Underlining that PoK is an Indian territory, Mr Chidambaram said the government “should facilitate the return of those who had gone across the LoC for some reasons”. He added all shades of opinion would be consulted while formulating the surrender-cum-rehabilitation scheme for Kashmiri youth who had trained in militant camps across the border. The home minister’s backing of the Omar Abdullah’s idea to wean away Kashmiri youth from militancy and bring them into the mainstream has made it clear that the government does not share Mr Azad’s concerns that move is fraught with security risks. Warning that some foreign terrorists could take advantage of the scheme to legally enter J&K, the former chief minister had asked: “Who will take guarantee of these youth willing to return? How can you prove that these are the same youth who had gone to that side for arms training and are now willing to come back on their own choice?”


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