Ex-Militants In Kashmir Rue Govt Apathy12 February 2010
Srinagar: The union home ministry may have agreed to the idea of granting amnesty to Kashmiri militants keen to return from Pak-administered-Kashmir for a peaceful life back home, but the condition of former militants who have already given up the path of violence here appears to be grim and full of peril. Human rights groups have put the number of former militants in Kashmir at around 42,000, and this sizeable group wonders why it continues to be harassed and persecuted in various ways even after having already abjured violence when the government plans an elaborate scheme of rehabilitation for those who are yet to do so. “It is more trouble being an ex-militant than an active one,” says Younis Ahmad, a former militant from Shalabugh, Srinagar. “After I was released in 2001, I never imagined taking up arms again or participating in any violent activity,” he says. “But security agencies continued to harass not only me but also my family.” “If there is any pro-freedom protest in the area, police or any other agency summons us,” he says. “One never comes out of this whirlpool of being subjected to investigations.” For most of his ilk, the idea of normalcy is an unattainable dream as, not to speak of a passport or a government job, a petty trader’s vocation also seems out of the question. “Seventeen years have passed since I gave up militancy, but still it is unimaginable to get a passport or a government job,” says Muhammad Yasin Dar of HMT, who was swept by the tide in the early days of militancy and joined the JKLF. “Government has no plans for us. What will it do with the youth who arrive back from the other side of LOC?” says Dar, recalling that he was arrested soon after he left the JKLF and joined the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen in 1990. Dar says that every venture he made to lead a normal, self-sustaining life after his release in 1993 “was ruined” by the continuous harassment of the security agencies. “Personally, I would be happy if the government plans to rehabilitate someone, but reflecting on the promises made to us and our present condition, I don’t think it is in anyway seriously going to help anyone to come back into the mainstream,” Dar says, having scrupulously kept out of trouble and steered clear of any political affiliation in the long years since his release. “Even if granted amnesty, will the security agencies leave them alone and let them live peacefully?” he asks. “The government has no plans for the rehabilitation of those who have already given up violence. What will it give to those who are yet to do so?” he says.