Friday, February 12, 2010

Kashmiri youth in PaK can return: PC

* Amnesty Idea Accepted, To Be Formulated Into Scheme* PaK Is Indian Territory * Leader Of Opposition In JK Will Be Consulted
New Delhi, Feb 11: In a big confidence building measure for Jammu and Kashmir, the central government has accepted the state’s proposal of amnesty to Kashmiri militants in Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) who want to return home without weapons and want to join the mainstream, “The idea that any Indian who had crossed over to PaK and wishes to return is certainly welcome,” Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters here. “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 one of the Working Groups appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for recommending measures to address problems of Jammu and Kashmir. Replying to questions at a briefing after meetings of the Cabinet and Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, Chidambaram said the return could be facilitated through a scheme which will entail identification, screening, travel, debriefing, rehabilitation and reintegration. Noting that “PaK 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”. Significantly, his statement counters the view of his Cabinet colleague and former JK Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad who has questioned the idea of allowing the return as he apprehended that they could come here to “create trouble”. Thousands of Kashmiri youths had crossed over to PaK from 1989 to join militant ranks. While many of them returned, a large number has not returned. Around 800 of them are understood to have conveyed their desire, through various channels, to return home. “We will consult all sections of opinion in Jammu and Kashmir,” Chidambaram said noting that there were two parties, National Conference and Congress, in the ruling coalition in the state. The Leader of Opposition in Jammu and Kashmir would also be consulted on this issue, he said, adding “Then we will formulate a scheme. It will take time.” Pertinently, Omar Abdullah earlier this week during the conference on internal security held in New Delhi had said, “To encourage more militants to return to the state and manage their transition to civilian life, a new surrender and rehabilitation policy of militants is under active consideration of my government”. The issue of return of Kashmiri youth from PaK shot to prominence in 2006 when a delegation of leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, including Omar Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti, went to Pakistan. Several Kashmiris stuck in PaK met them and asked them to facilitate their return, saying they were “homesick”. The issue later had its echo in the state Assembly but the Government had stated that there was no proposal to facilitate the return of these youth.
Big relief for militants’ families: Omar

*Move To Strengthen Occupation: Hurriyat (G)
*Welcome Change: PDP
Srinagar, Feb 11: Centre’s decision to offer amnesty to Kashmiri youth in Pakistan administered Kashmir who want to return home without weapons has evoked a mixed response from various pro-freedom and mainstream parties in Kashmir.Talking to Greater Kashmir over phone from New Delhi, the Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G), Syed Ali Shah Geelani, said, “New Delhi’s move has no significance. This is an attempt to strengthen its occupation in Jammu and Kashmir.”Geelani said India’s Kashmir policy is remains unchanged and it continues to be rigid on its stand. “Kashmiris are not being allowed to stage peaceful protests forcing our youth to pick up guns. Under such conditions how can we welcome the move,” he said, adding it was for the militants to decide whether or not they want to give up militancy.No Hurriyat Conference (M) leader, including its chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was available for comment.Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, has termed the move as a big gift for the families of militants who are living in PaK.“It was needed. That’s why we had been asking for it,” the CM said in his immediate reaction to the announcement in New Delhi. He said the central government had accepted the idea of granting amnesty to Kashmiri militants in PaK who want to return without weapons and join the mainstream.Opposition People’s Democratic Party has also hailed the move saying it was a “welcome change.”“It’s a welcome and pleasant change in the entire Kashmir issue and we hope for its speedy implementation. We hope the other recommendations of the Hamid Ansari working group like demilitarisation of civilian areas, repeal of AFSPA will also be considered by the centre,” PDP chief spokesman, Naeem Akhtar, said.State Congress President, Prof Saif-ud-din Soz, backed the chief minister on the issue. “Omar Abdullah’s statement regarding surrender by militants and their rehabilitation in the mainstream, which he made in the Chief Ministers conference last week, cannot be faulted,” Soz said.He said the suggestions and propositions were made by several experts in the past. “All such suggestions are already under consideration of the Government of India.” The idea to rehabilitate them on humanitarian basis was first floated in May 2006 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held the second roundtable conference on Kashmir in Srinagar. Azad was then heading the Congress-Peoples Democratic Party coalition government in the state.Pertinently, another congress leader and former J&K chief minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday had said that the surrender of the militants on their return from Pakistan could pose a serious danger to security in the state.Bharatiya Janta party and Panthers Party have opposed the move. Senior BJP legislator, Ashok Khajuria, said the decision amounted to government’s surrender before the militants.“It’s surrender to the militants. This would open the flood gates for terrorists,” he said, adding “It is a reward to anti-national forces and a snub to nationalist forces.” Panthers Party even went on to demand dismissal of the chief minister while its Chairman, Prof Bhim Singh, termed it as a “misadventure of the CM.”

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