Centre endorses Omar’s red carpet to PoK militants

published on February 11, 2010

Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

Surrender policy sparks row, Pandits up in arms

In a controversial move that could open the floodgate for return of PoK-based militants to Kashmir Valley, Home Ministry on Thursday endorsed the new surrender policy mooted by Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. Angry over the Government’s red carpet to the militants, Kashmiri Pandits have said it was unfortunate that the terrorists who drove them out of the Valley at gun point were welcomed by the Government while they are still homeless.

Although the Government records have details of only 800 such youth who crossed over to PoK during last two decades, the policy could pave way for return of thousands of militants, whose identity maybe difficult to establish.

“The Government is ready to welcome Kashmiris who had gone to PoK if they are ready to return after giving up militancy, said Home Minister P Chidambaram.

“The idea is accepted… This idea must now be translated into a scheme,” the Home Minister said, adding it was one of the recommendations of the Working Groups appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Chidambaram said their return could be facilitated through a scheme which will entail identification, screening, travel, debriefing, rehabilitation and reintegration. Noting that “PoK is actually an Indian territory,” he said the Government “should facilitate the return” of those who had gone across the Line of Control for “some reasons”.

Former Chief Minister and Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had raised objections at Omar’s policy of welcoming the militants. Azad had already apprehended the genuineness of the militants who wanted to come back and said this decision would “create troubles”, if some people with ill motives came back to India.

According to Home Ministry sources, the Centre would ask the J&K Government to prepare detailed drafts on case-to-case basis about persons willing to surrender.

“We are agreeing in principle to the policy mooted by the J&K Government. But it is for them to prepare the details. A lot of issues have to be considered. The State has to submit the antecedents of persons coming forward to surrender,” he said.

“Apart from the rehabilitation schemes, the J&K Government has asked to submit the entire case history of each person who are willing to come back. There is no exact data of the persons who crossed the border. Some estimation peg it to 800, others multiply it be four. Some people have already settled there, after marrying local girls. All these issues had to be studied thoroughly after getting the State’s report,” sources said.

Meanwhile, Union Government’s move has not gone down well with the Kashmiri Pandits, living in exile for over two decades.

Condemning the stand, prominent Kashmiri Pandit leader Dr Agnishekhar, convener of Panun Kashmir, said, “Government of India is virtually playing with the fire by opening floodgates for trained militants to return to Kashmir.”

He said, “It is clear from their stand that they are more worried about rehabilitating perpetrators of terror than rehabilitating victims of terror in the State.”

“We need to wake up and oppose this sinister design tooth and nail as it is going to be a disastrous move,”
Dr Agnishekar said warning Centre against indulging in such misadventurism at this crucial juncture.

He said if the Centre would allow these militants to come back they would only wreak havoc on the security establishment and threaten the whole sovereignty and integrity of India.” What brownie points these political leaders are going to score and for whom, another Kashmiri leader wondered.

Another leading voice of Kashmiri Pandits, Dr Ajay Churangoo said, “When security experts have been consistently warning against upsurge in militant activities from across the border it is shocking to note that policy-makers in New Delhi are still ready to indulge in these machinations which are part of bigger sinister design.”

Churangoo said, “Is there any mechanism available which fully guarantees that a person camping in PoK for over 20 years and had received arms training in terrorist training camps would quietly settle down on his return and would guarantee that he would not pose a security risk.”

Meanwhile, Virender Gupta President Jammu State Morcha strongly criticised the move and lashed out at the Chief Minister and his party, National Conference, for failing to control the situation in Kashmir.

Gupta said, “Is the Chief Minister ready to take the responsibility that his suggestions if implemented would not boomerang and would not worsen the security situation?”

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