Srinagar: Even as
the outcome of the National Investigating Agency (NIA) probe into
the arrest of Syed Liaquat Shah is awaited, the plight of
militants who surrendered in Jammu and Kashmir under a 2010 policy
has come into sharp focus. For them, it's akin to going from the
frying pan into the fire.
The state government has been asserting that Liaquat had come
along with his wife and stepdaughter to surrender before the
authorities under the government's 2010 rehabilitation policy,
while Delhi Police, who picked him up in Gorakhpur in Uttar
Pradesh, claim he had come to plan a terror strike in the national
capital around Holi.
Liaquat's arrest comes against the background of the lesser known
fact that another family which came with his from Pakistani
Kashmir via the Nepal route to surrender has reached the Valley.
Muhammad Ashraf belongs to north Kashmir's Bandipora district. He
was accompanied by his wife and five children, a highly placed
source here confirmed to IANS.
Sources also said that during a de-briefing session, Ashraf had
confirmed the genuineness of Liaquat's intentions to surrender as
the two families had interacted before taking the final call on
their surrender decision.
The state government announced an ambitious rehabilitation policy
in 2010 to encourage Kashmiri youth living in Pakistani Kashmir to
return home and live a normal life after abjuring violence.
Under this policy, over 200 former militants have returned, most
of them with their families. Most of the surrendered militants
have Pakistani spouses who also chose to come to Kashmir along
with their husbands and children.
The state government claims that these former militants have been
given monetary incentives and provided security cover, but the
"beneficiaries" deny this.
The rehabilitation policy has been severely criticised by the
families of the surrendered militants, with most of them alleging
the authorities have done precious little after they decided to
respond to the state government's announcement.
Zeba, the wife of one such surrendered militant, belongs to
Karachi. She told reporters in Srinagar earlier this week that she
wanted to visit her parents in Pakistan but the authorities have
done nothing to arrange for her travel documents.
Under the existing laws, Zeba and dozens like her are living
illegally in the Valley since they have come here without any
valid travel documents from Pakistan and without India issuing
Paradoxically, the future of such families hangs in balance since
the rehabilitation policy is silent on the future of foreign
spouses of the surrendered militants.
Many surrendered militants have been voicing serious concern about
their non-acceptance by society after their return from across the
"Our children are not able to get admission into local schools as
we have no residence proof, ration card, state subject certificate
or even an identity card. The authorities have brought us here
without even being able to give us an identity card. We have
become aliens in our land," said a surrendered militant who did
not wish to be named.
Some of the surrendered militants say they are living on rent in
localities far away from their ancestral places where their actual
identities are not known to avoid social stigma.
Overall, since 1990, 4,081 militants have surrendered in the state
up to February, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah
told the legislative assembly, now in session in winter capital
Jammu. The state government is, however, silent on the steps taken
to rehabilitate them.
(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at email@example.com)