J&K’s Rehab Policy For Militants A Farce

J&K’s Rehab Policy For Militants A Farce

25 October 2013
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Arun Joshi

Jammu: If any proof is needed that J&K’s rehabilitation policy for militants coming from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is a big flop, it is here; some of the militants and their families have shifted back to the other side of the Line of Control (LoC). Some out of the 242 of them have rejoined the ranks of militants, according to highly placed sources in the state government. They have replenished the dwindling number of militants in the Valley. Since there is no dearth of arms, particularly pistols and grenades, the militants have given a new fillip to militancy as evidenced by the recent attacks on policemen and soldiers in Kashmir. A fear psychosis has gripped residents of the Valley, as they don’t know who among them could be operating as a militant. The fear particularly emanates from the militants who have travelled to Kashmir via the Nepal route. That is an illegitimate route. Of the five families that went to other side of the LoC on Monday, three of them were from Keran - the place which is infamous for a fortnight-long standoff and the Army calling off its operations without getting even a single militant or weapon. Earlier, too, three militants had returned to PoK. This is what is known, there might be many more who came and returned to the other side of the LoC, said sources in the government. The rehabilitation policy for militants was conceived in 2009 but its final picture was made available in 2010. It envisaged that Kashmiri youth who had gone to PoK and Pakistan to get training in arms and ammunition and were to return to launch “jihad” against what they called “Indian occupation of Kashmir” would be rehabilitated with dignity. It was said that the families of the militants could apply on their behalf and seek their return. It was termed as a great confidence-building measure by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is also the author of this policy. Omar had claimed a number of times that the return of the “misguided youth” to the state would “help in building peace.” Instead, it has turned out to be the other way round. Their antecedents were to be checked by the CID wing of the state police as also the Union Home Ministry. Some of the militants returned via the LoC, which was not a legal route, but they were accepted. Others came via Nepal. Again, the route was illegitimate. The policy had identified four routes - Chakan da Bagh in Poonch, Wagah border in Punjab, Indira Gandhi International Airport New Delhi and Salambad in Baramullah district. They could have returned only with the consent of the Pakistani agencies, which would mean that Pakistan would have to acknowledge that it had been training anti-India militants on its soil. So, Pakistan stayed out of this. “We also knew that this policy would not work. It was just to make a political statement that India was keen to have militants from across the LoC while Pakistan was putting stumbling blocks in this,” a senior officer involved in drafting this policy told The Tribune. He acknowledged that “this policy is a big flop.” There are more that 3,000 Kashmiri militants, mostly belonging to Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, in PoK and many of them had pleaded with Omar Abdullah when he went there in 2008 and also with PDP president Mehbooba Mufti that they wanted to live a normal life with their families. But those who came have started going back. That leaves this policy hanging in the air without any result on the ground, leave aside contributing to peace. Instead it has given a fillip to militancy. Omar had taken upon himself the responsibility of vouching for the innocence of those coming, like in the case of Liyakat Ali Shah, who was arrested by the Delhi police for having come via Nepal. He was let off after interrogation as nothing adverse was found against him. But Liyakat seemed to be an exception. The fact as it stands today is that some of the terrorists have been pushed into India via the Nepal border to give a boost to militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.