M A I N   N E W S

Centre ready for amnesty to Kashmiri ultras in PoK 
If they want to shun the gun, they’re welcome: PC
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11
In a major confidence-building measure, the Centre today expressed readiness to facilitate return of all Kashmiri youth who had gone to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and wish to come back denouncing militancy.

Accepting the state government’s proposal of amnesty to Kashmiri militants in Pakistan who want to return home without weapons and want to join the mainstream, Home Minister P Chidambaram said: “Those Indians who had crossed over to PoK and now wish to return to India are certainly welcome”. The decision was taken at the meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here. After the meeting, Chidambaram said: “The PoK is actually an Indian territory and we should facilitate their return.”

“The idea of granting amnesty to Kashmiri youth in PoK has been accepted. The idea must be translated into action now,” he added.

The Home Minister said the government was now considering how to carry out the process of youths’ return. “There are many points for their travel back. Like identification, debriefing, rehabilitation and reintegration into the system,” he said.

He was responding to J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s proposal that a new surrender and rehabilitation policy should be formulated for such youths.

Omar 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.”

“They may have gone there for more than one reason but if they want to return we will facilitate it,” Chidambaram said, while adding that the government would hold discussions with various political parties, besides taking the Leader of Opposition in confidence on the issue.

The formulation of the surrender policy would facilitate the return of nearly 800 youth willing to come back from PoK and join the mainstream.

“Process of wider consultation would be carried and we will consult leader of the opposition and two main political parties in J&K,” he said about the ruling National Conference, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the BJP.

The statement from the Home Minister also put to rest a row that had erupted after Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former Chief Minister of the state, opposed CM Omar Abdullah’s call for rehabilitation of Kashmiri militants.

“Who will take guarantee of these youth willing to return? How can you prove that these are the same youth who had gone to that side for arms training and are now willing to come back on their own choice? Some foreign terrorists can take advantage of this move,” the Union Health Minister had said on Tuesday.

“Pakistan has not handed over the accused involved in the Mumbai terror attacks so far. Who can trust them in this case? There are chances of adopting a strategy to push militants (into India ) taking cover of this surrender policy,” he said.

The idea to rehabilitate the Kashmiri youth on humanitarian basis was first floated in May 2006 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held the second roundtable conference on Kashmir in Srinagar .

The PM had listed the issue as one of the subjects to be looked into for addressing the internal dimension of the Kashmir problem, and at his press conference on May 25, 2006, he had stated that talks would be held with Pakistan on the issue.

A working group headed by M. Hamid Ansari, now Vice-President, had recommended that the government should initiate talks with Pakistan to rehabilitate these youth.



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