Amnesty Allows Former Kashmir Militants To Come Home

Amnesty Allows Former Kashmir Militants To Come Home

30 April 2013
Khabar South Asia
Adil Akhzer

Srinagar: Ghulam Mohammed Khan, from north Kashmir's Bandipora district, was a teenager when he crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in June 1992, bent on taking up arms as an insurgent. But he soon grew disillusioned with violent extremism. 'I was 17 when I went to Azad Kashmir (Pakistan-held Kashmir) through Gurez sector in Bandipora,' Khan told Khabar South Asia. 'Along with my friend I joined a militant training camp there. However, after two months, I left the camp and began working in a bakery shop in Muzaffarabad.' Later he got married and his wife gave birth to a son. Khan longed to return home and raise his family, but his past affiliation with the militants was an obstacle. Last year, thanks to an amnesty and rehabilitation policy launched in 2010 by the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state government, Khan returned to the Valley, together with his wife and son. He plans to live the rest of his life alongside his relatives in the area where he grew up. Challenges still remain, however. 'I am still looking for a job to sustain my family as we are yet to receive any monetary benefits from the government,' he told Khabar. Khan, now 38, is not alone. Minister of State for Home Affairs R. P. N. Singh recently told the Lok Sabha that about 262 ex-militants have returned to Kashmir between 2010 and April 10th. Militant promises were not kept Nazir Ahmad Dar, 44, from Ganderbal district in central Kashmir, is another former militant who benefited from the rehabilitation policy. He says that the extremists who recruited him made promises that turned out to be false. 'I was just 21 when I was motivated to cross the LoC to receive militant training,' Dar told Khabar. 'I was told a different story before leaving for Azad Kashmir, like we will be provided money and all, but everything proved wrong. Later, disillusioned, I left the camp and went to live with relatives in Muzaffarabad. 'Last year I came to know from my relatives that the government had announced a rehabilitation policy for former militants. After completing all formalities, we entered India via Nepal and then Kashmir,' he said. He added that they are still facing difficulties. 'I am thankful to the government that we met our relatives,' he said. 'However my kids couldn't go to school because they need security certificates which have yet to be issued. Also, we have not received any monetary compensation as promised by the government.' More needs to be done Authorities in J&K say the returnees' concerns are being heard. 'The government is doing its best to rehabilitate the militants who have returned along with the families,' J&K Home Minister Sajjad Ahmad Kichloo told Khabar. 'On the directions of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, a committee has been constituted recently to check the problems these families are facing in Kashmir.' Political experts in Kashmir believe the government should work on the loopholes that exist in the rehabilitation policy. 'The government introduced a very beneficial policy for the militants. They (militants) have realised their mistakes and now they want to return back and live with their families here,' University of Kashmir Associate Professor Ali Mohammed Kak told Khabar. 'The government should work to check the current loopholes. There is a need to provide monetary compensation to these militants.'