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Surrender policy not for Sikh militants, says Chidambaram
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 17
The “new surrender policy” for militants being drafted by the state and Central governments is limited to Kashmiri youths only and not for Sikh youths of the state or of Punjab, who had crossed over to Pakistan, Home Minister P Chidambaram categorically said here on Wednesday.

Talking to mediapersons after chairing a meeting of the Unified Command - a joint body of Army, paramilitary, intelligence and police forces - the Home Minister, in response to a question, said the policy was only for Kashmiri youths who had crossed over to PoK.

A demand for inclusion of Sikh youths who crossed over to Pakistan during militancy in Punjab or had taken political asylum in other countries is gaining ground ever since the Centre approved in-principle general amnesty to terrorists willing to renounce militancy and return as law abiding citizens.

A large number of Sikh youths from the state - including four youths from Jammu division convicted in an 1984 plane hijack and Khalistan Zindabad Force chief Ranjit Singh Neeta - are in foreign countries. Many others from Punjab had also crossed over, particularly after Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.

Chidambaram, meanwhile, allayed fears of militants coming to the state under the garb of surrendered youths. “Let me be very clear that we have liked and approved the idea of facilitating return to the state of those youths who renounce terrorism and want to be law abiding citizens, but the modalities are being worked out. The state government is preparing a draft and all fears and objections to the policy would be addressed in the draft to be later discussed minutely,” he said.

The Home Minister stressed that surrendered militants would be screened thoroughly and said it was not a new concept to offer amnesty to such youths. “We have done it earlier. The CRPF inducted a full battalion of surrendered militants in the North-East and the BSF has also recruited 450 such youths, who had shunned anti-India violence and returned to the mainstream.”

The Home Minister also stated there were no differences between senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and the state leadership over the surrender policy. “Union Health Minister Azad had merely raised some points that we should take into account while making such a policy. And, as already said, we are just drafting the policy and all such issues and concerns would be taken due care of,” he said.

‘Terrorism up in J&K’

While commending the role of security forces in combating terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, Home Minister P Chidambaram admitted that there has been an increase in terrorism-related incidents in the state. As many as 65 terrorist incidents have taken place in the state in the first 45 days of this year, Chidambaram said. “In these incidents, seven civilians, nine security personnel and 24 militants have been killed,” he said, but felt that the “security forces were making gradual progress, and the situation was improving.”



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