Sheikh Umar Ahmad

Failure of rehabilitation policy for ex-militants

Failure of rehabilitation policy for ex-militants
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“The rehabilitation policy for ex-militants who returned from PaK with their families to I failed miserably on the ground with their families living in a state of absolute misery, penury and neglect from the state department, desperate enough to move back to their places of birth as the rehab policy was not implemented in toto”

Kashmir conflict has over years evolved into many traumatic contextures involving masses from different religions, ethnic groups and above all regions of common descent. It has contributed to the bloodshed of more than 100 thousand lives over the span till now and is continuing still. No method, policy or strategy has paved way for unconditional resolution of this conflict but every time anything new is/was conceived for the goodwill of people from any end, rather than to alleviate the sufferings of common people or in most of the influenced ones, it potentiates it further and worsens the situation than ever. Apart from various schemes and policies framed to curb this growing trend of armed resistance in Kashmir against the agony of Indian rule, a new out of box policy was framed “as surrender & rehabilitation policy” approved by then-state cabinet in November 2010 after clearance from Government of India intended to facilitate the return of former militants who belong to J&K and had crossed over to PaK and Pakistan for arms training. It was initially meant for the youth who gave up this idea of picking up arms due to change of heart or who were willing to return to rejoin their families and was applicable to those who went there between January 1, 1989, and December 31, 2009.

According to this policy envisaged, the youth allowed to return would be permitted to enter only through four designated points – Poonch, Rawalakote, Uri-Muzaffarabad, Wagah (Punjab) and Indira Gandhi International airport, New Delhi. Initially thought of as a goodwill gesture for the people who are desperate to move back to their places of birth came back with their families through any of these designated routes, finding a ray of hope amid the ever-escalating tensions between the two neighboring nations, but ended as a flop show. It does provide the returnees with a route to come back but never gave them the rights and privileges ensued in the policy. The basic identity documents were not provided to any of their family members like election card, Aadhar card, ration card, and the likes even after repeated pleas to state government that only alleviated their sufferings and further added to their worrisome while thinking of their future in Kashmir in absence of these basic amenities to them. The continuous protest from yesteryears and of recent one by more than some 350 wives of ex-militants against the state administration and their oppressive tactics who failed miserably to implement the rehab policy in the best interest to all of them is a testimony to the fact that this policy has escalated the tensions further rather than easing it. The government in its 2003 budget session of state legislature informed that during the past three years, some 241 former militants have returned illegally via Nepal route and other routes along with their families. Saying further that since no ex-militant has returned through the identified routes under the policy after fulfillment of the conditions prescribed in it, so they are not eligible for any assistance or rehabilitation. Here one thing to remind them of that in absence of travel documents to any of them and in wake of nonclearance of emigration by the concerned agencies, how come they would have come back through the designated routes. They were made to come back illegally as the policy failed to manhandle this situation of theirs. It was rather an attempt of deceit and informal trap up a policy to let them come back, get the required information from them, prepare a framework document of future plans and then let them suffer on their own. This way they not only broke their trust but rather strong up their inner claim that they can never be theirs but every time they come up with anything new, it comes up mere policies of deceit. There are cases in which ex-militants after their return, surrendered in front of designated authorities, thinking of a suitable rehabilitation plan for them, rejoined the militancy groups only after finding this policy a real failure on the ground. Even most of the ex-militants families term the government rehabilitation policy as a failure and that is why they have finally decided to exfiltrate illegally.

Pertinently around 350 former militants have returned to J&K from PaK, along with their families, through Nepal and other routes in over 2 decades from 1989 to 2009 under this rehab policy. But as per government, they are not entitled to the benefits as they have come through undesignated routes. These families are facing a lot of hardships as these former militants’ wives are Pakistani nationals and their children too are born in Pakistan and are denied the basic ID in this part even after repeated pleas. These families feel dejected courtesy to official apathy. Apparently, some of these families want to go back to the other side of LoC from where they had come with lots of dreams & hopes.

This thin line that separates these two families and denies them of their basic identities devalues the essence of that great quotation that Good fences make Good neighbours. This line has done the greatest of damage to humanity by delinking it from blood and birth. There is a greater need to maintain that thin line humanely and not to let the humanity seize in wake of this line but to maintain a steady state of good relations with each other and at the extremes. It is also time now for the state and central establishments to rethink their policies of deceit and resolve the inaccuracies in the best interest to and fro of this thin line. It is also required for both the parties at the extreme ends to reduce this trust deficit among the masses involved by resolving the core issues pertaining to both the regions of this line as a goodwill gesture.

The author is a freelance writer and currently Ph.D. Research scholar (DST INSPIRE FELLOW) at CSIR IIIM Jammu.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.

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