Shopian (Jammu and Kashmir): Do they thank god or the government? An extraordinary
question in the conflict-ridden politics of the Kashmir valley,
but the Dars in Narpora village send their heartfelt thanks to
both as they celebrate the homecoming of their son after 11 years
of being a gun-wielding militant in Pakistan.
After years of fear and uncertainty of not knowing what had
happened to their son -- who had in 1991 crossed the Line of
Control (LoC) that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan --
65-year-old Abdul Gani and his wife Sara, 60, are looking at hope
and a return to some happiness again.
The couple in Shopian district's Narpora village, about 55 km from
summer capital Srinagar, say they are thankful to god and the Omar
Abdullah government's rehabilitation policy for making their son's
"We had lost all hope. It is as if our son has been reborn after
11 years. We have lived under fear during the last 11 years,"
Abdul Gani, who has three sons and six daughters told IANS
Jammu and Kashmir's rehabilitation policy, aiming at an honourable
return home for youths who had crossed the LoC during the last 20
years for obtaining weapons, has clearly started paying dividend.
Abdul Rashid Dar, who was only 25 when he left home to join the
separatist guerrillas across the LoC, is one of those who has
benefited. Dar said he and his Pakistani wife came back after the
rehabilitation policy announced by the state government in
In the 11 years he was away, Dar, who returned about four months
ago, met his Pakistani wife Shabina Naaz. The couple has a
daughter and a son -- seven-year-old Isu and five-year-old Hamzala.
The children are going to a local village school, where Shabina,
32, also teaches. And Abdul is tending the family's agricultural
lands. It is a far cry from the tumultuous years he spent away
from home, where violence was a way of life.
Dar refuses to reveal the route he had taken to return to the
Valley but seems content to return.
"The state government must continue the policy so that more and
more youths who are eager to return avail themselves of the
goodwill gesture," Dar told IANS, reluctant to divulge any details
of his years away from home.
His wife Shabina, who worked as a journalist for Pakistan's
Frontier Post newspaper, echoes her husband's call for quiet. She
wants to live peacefully, taking care of her husband's parents and
children in Kashmir.
"There is no alternative to peace. It is time my husband and I
started caring for his old parents and the future of our children
who must not suffer because of violence," Shabina said.
With Shabina being a Pakistani, there are many bureaucratic
hurdles to be crossed.
"We are still living on approval in our Narpora Shopian village. A
case is going in a local court regarding my wife's right to
continue living with me in Kashmir," Dar disclosed.
He added that other than routine questioning, police had not
harassed him or his family.
In a rare case of officials and a returned militant in sync with
each other, a government official said he believed the state would
take a "compassionate view".
Asked what the government policy is on the spouses of returning
militants, the official told IANS: "We are treating them as the
spouse of Indian citizens and allowing them to live here for the
"Finally a call will have to be taken as per the law of the land,
but I believe the state will take a holistic compassionate view of
According to a state intelligence official, the government has
received 1,034 applications under the rehabilitation policy.
"Ninety youths who had crossed the LoC have so far returned with
their family members. The total number of people is 160. Nine more
are expected to reach here in the next two days along with their
families, a total number of 40 people."
So, more happy endings then in a state where strife and violence
have been a way of life for more than two decades and where peace
is making a hesitant return.
(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at email@example.com)