Reward to terrorists punishment to patriots
Policy of rehabilitation for ‘ex-militants’
Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo
The Government of Jammu and Kashmir formulated a policy for rehabilitation of the so-called ex-militants who had crossed over to PoK/Pakistan for training in terrorism between 1.1.1989 and 31.12.2009. This policy was implemented by the State government in ‘concurrence’ with the Government of India immediately after its announcement.
Notwithstanding the opposition to the policy by political, social and other groups in the State and in the country, the government went ahead in this regard. There was a serious concern expressed by these groups that this policy would ultimately lead to the reversal of all the gains achieved by the security forces over the years in Jammu and Kashmir State. The policy lays down a complete procedure to facilitate the return of the ‘ex-militants’ who crossed the borders in Kashmir for arms training in Pakistan/PoK. The policy envisages that these terrorists must have undergone the following: “Giving up of insurgent activities”, “Change of heart” and “willingness to return to the State”.
The procedure for return includes the active involvement of: Police, CID, Central Intelligence Agencies, RAW, Army, Security forces, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, Joint Secretary (Kashmir) Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi, Ministry of External Affairs, Bureau of Immigration, High Commission of India in Islamabad and the parents of the ‘Returnee’.
As per the reports that have been published in the print media, the latest situation on the subject is as follows (Based on the government’s reply in the Assembly): [241 militants have “illegally” returned to their homes in the State from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) while another 3,974 militants are still living across the border in Pakistan and PoK. “During the past three years and the current year up to 15th February, 241 ex-militants/terrorists have returned illegally via Nepal and other routes along with their family Members”, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who also holds the portfolio of the Home Minister said in a written reply to the question of a Member in the Legislative Assembly. “Reportedly around 3,974 ultras are still living in PoK and Pakistan (across the border)”, the reply reads. However, none of the returnees has returned through the routes identified by the State government in its policy for rehabilitation of militants living across the LoC. “No ex-militant has returned from PoK to the State through the identified routes under the policy and procedure for return of ex-militants to J&K State notified by the State government”, it adds.
According to the written reply from the Chief Minister, 29 militants have returned to State in the year 2010 out of whom, 5 have brought their wives and children along with them while as out of 54 returnees in 2011, 16 have brought their wives and children along with them to their homes in the State. Similarly, in the year 2012, 150 ex-militants have returned home among whom 90 brought their wives and children along while as in 2013 (up to February 15, 2013), 8 ex-militants have returned of whom 2 have brought their wives and children along with them. “1,089 applications have been received on behalf of the ex-militants/prospective returnees who are willing to return under the aforementioned policy, out of these, 191 cases have been recommended for return. The rest of the applications are being scrutinised and verified”, reads the reply to one of the clauses of the question. In response to a query as to how much money had been spent on the rehabilitation of the ex-militants returning under the scheme, the reply says, “Since no ex-militant has returned through the identified routes in the aforesaid policy after fulfilment of the conditions prescribed in the policy, they are not eligible for any assistance for their rehabilitation. Therefore no assistance can be provided for their rehabilitation”. “The State government will continue with the efforts for implementation of the policy to facilitate return of youth desirous to return to the State under the aforesaid policy”, it adds. ]
Here it needs to be mentioned that the policy does not confer any special benefits or privileges available in the existing surrender/rehabilitation policy. Moreover, no general amnesty is envisaged under this policy and instead, the returnees would be duly prosecuted in cases registered against them which are of serious nature.
Certain senior officials of the government (who would not like to be identified) say the rehabilitation policy has not worked properly due to a lack of coordination between the J&K government, the Centre and Pakistan that has ensured that none of those who want to return via designated places for surrender are able to do so. This is why the returnees prefer the Nepal route that is not recognised under the policy. According to the policy, those wanting to return under the policy have to apply for it through their relatives in Kashmir. The State government eventually clears the applications in consultation with Union Home Ministry and intelligence agencies. Those who had crossed over between January 1989 and December 2009 and their dependents are eligible for return under the policy. An important source blamed the State government for encouraging the returnees to take the Nepal route and surrender before the J&K Police without taking the Union Home Ministry and Central Intelligence Agencies into confidence. Interestingly, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in March, 2013 told the State Assembly that “None of the returnees has returned through the routes identified,’’ He also said that 1,089 applications had been received under the policy.
Under the policy, three entry points (and not four) —JCP Wagah-Attari, Punjab, Chakan-da-Bagh/Salamabad crossings (J&K) and Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi were identified for the return of the individuals where after verification, a record of their arrival would be maintained. The arrest of Liyaqat Shah has brought a number of new dimensions before the nation about this policy formulated with a view to ensure ‘change of heart’. Some serious issues have come up now which need to be confronted by the nation and the society as fallout of this controversial policy.
(The author is the President of Panun Kashmir).
(To be Concluded).
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed in Madras High Court by Badar Sayeed, the first woman to head the Wakf Board and the Tamil Nadu Minorities Commission to stop the practice of Muslim clerics issuing talaq (divorce) certificates. In the PIL, Badar Sayeed, a former AIADMK MLA, and a former additional advocate-general in High Court, said though Qazis have not been statutorily conferred any administrative or judicial power to issue certificates and other documents certifying or approving talaq, they have been continuing the practice unlawfully.
According to her, Qazis Act, 1880 was enacted only for the purpose of attendance of a Qazi at a marriage, and that the Act does not confer any power on them to issue a certificate recognising divorces or talaq. Badar said, “It has been repeatedly held that any talaq, unless preceded by mediation or reconciliation, is invalid. But the Qazis in Tamil Nadu are unilaterally issuing certificates and documents recognising talaq.”
She noted that Qazis were judicial authorities under the Muslim Personal Law once, but their powers have been taken over by civil courts during the British rule. She pointed out that the mandatory conditions for pronouncing triple talaq are not being followed by many Muslim men and that Muslim women were left in the lurch due to the lacuna. “They are asked to be satisfied by certain reliefs given under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986,” she added.
The division bench comprising acting Chief Justice RK Agrawal and Justice M Sathyanarayanan before whom the PIL came for hearing, issued notice to the State and Central governments and Chief Qazi, returnable in two weeks.
(VSK Chennai with media inputs)