Srinagar, February 12
The announcement by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram that the government would consider the homecoming of the youth, who for one reason or the other had crossed the LoC and now wanted to return to join mainstream, has brought a reason to cherish for people like Ghulam Qadir.
It was in 1989 when Shakeel Ahmed, the younger son of Qadir who was 17 at that time, inspired by some of his friends crossed over to the PoK to take arms training to join ‘jihad’ against Indian in the Kashmir valley.
“He landed in a training camp in the PoK where he realised that it was not a holy war, but only the madness of some people. So, he was disillusioned with the so-called jihad and tried to escape from the camp, but was held in captivity,” Qadir said.
He said someone informed the family that their son had died while crossing the LoC back to India.
The family had lost all hopes, but it was in 2005, when both countries agreed to start a cross- LoC bus service to unite the members of the divided families, that Qadir came to know that his son was alive.
“One of my cousins went to Muzaffrabad to meet his sister.There he came to know that Shakeel was alive and was working as a waiter at a local hotel,” Qadir said. He said his cousin met Shakeel, who by then had married and was a father of two sons and a daughter.
“On his way back from Muzaffrabad, my cousin brought with him a family picture of Shakeel and a letter in which he had written that he was in a miserable condition and wanted to return home along with his wife and children,” Qadir said while showing the picture of his son and his family.
He said his son had written that hundreds of youths like him were also willing to return home.
As per the people who visited the PoK on the bus, an estimated 3,000 youth from Kashmir are living there and their condition is pitiable as most of them are doing petty jobs.
Security agencies in the past have also used the passengers on Caravan-e-Aman to motivate the ‘misguided’ youths to return and surrender.
“This is nothing new as in the past too people visiting the PoK on Caravan-e-Aman have worked as facilitators to motivate the misguided youth to come and surrender,” a senior intelligence officer said.