By Ishtiyaq Kar | Srinagar | Photographs by Zuhaib Mohammad Khan
In the backdrop of the arrest of Liyaqat Shah by Delhi police, scores of ex-militants staged a protest in the press colony here today against the state government’s ‘failure’ to rehabilitate them.
The former militants, demonstrating under the banner of Jammu and Kashmir Human Welfare Association, alleged that the state government was doing nothing to mitigate their sufferings. “We had come back home from across the border only on the assurances of the state government and with great expectations from its rehabilitation policy. We had come with a hope for a good life but the authorities have failed in living up to their word and their promises turned out hallow,” said Farooq Ahmad, who hails from north Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
Most of the ‘rehabilitated militants’ has brought their families along who were protesting alongside them. “We demand that we should be rehabilitated like the families of Punjab and north east surrendered militants,” they said.
While explaining their ordeal the protester’s said that they were facing innumerable hard ships in their day to day life. “We are being denied Passports, I Cards and even our children are not given admission in schools easily,” they said.
Abdul Rasheed from Handwara who has returned from Pakistan 9 months back under the rehabilitation policy said that he had taken up arms under certain circumstances. “But now we completely shun the part of violence. So we should be given a fair chance to live like normal human beings,” he added.
“After returning home I found claims of rehabilitation to be a hoax,” said Rasheed.
The protestors demanded that the state government should take immediate steps to ensure rehabilitation policy works in the real sense. “Otherwise we will be left with no option but to commit suicide along with our families”.
Protesters also demanded the release of Shah of Lolab Kupwara who was recently arrested by Delhi Police while returning from across the border. “Jammu and Kashmir government has already given a green signal to his application for return under the rehabilitation policy. But now he is being falsely charged by Delhi police, so it becomes the responsibility of state government to ensure his immediate release,” said one of the protesting ex-militants.
They said the state government should first rehabilitate those militants who are already in Kashmir and then ask others to return from across the border.
Meanwhile, the Director General of Police (DGP), Ashok Prasad, said that the state government was looking into the issues being faced by the ex-militants who have returned to their homes for leading a normal life. “Government is very serious about the policy and it will take some time for them to get settled. Issues like ration, schooling of children and other similar things have been paid special attention,” Prasad told the news agency and added that the government will also look into other demands of the returnees.
However, he said that the issues like citizenship and validity of their degrees for higher education were major issues which will take a lot of time for redressal. “These are legal and constitutional issues which will take time, however, all other facilities necessary for them to lead a normal life are being taken care of,” added Prasad
The DGP said that the issue of arrest of Shah has already been taken up by the National Investigating Agency (of India) for investigations. “We are in touch with authorities and investigation has already been started. As soon as we get a report from them, we will see into that issue as well,” he added.
Pertinently, the state government had entered into an unwritten understanding with the Centre that any youth who had joined militant ranks in 1990s and wished to return via Nepal would be allowed to do so provided he surrendered before Army or police in the Valley. (KNS)