News / Asia

Ex-militants Allege Broken Promises in Indian Kashmir

Ex-Militants Allege Broken Promises in Indian-Kashmiri
X
September 04, 2013 4:55 PM
Former militants who spent years in Pakistan are returning to their homes in Indian-controlled Kashmir as part of a rehabilitation program initiated by the local government. Indian officials say hundreds of people have crossed back into Indian-controlled Kashmir from Pakistan. But many of the men say authorities are not keeping their promises. VOA New Delhi correspondent Aru Pande has more on the challenges the former militants are facing in Srinagar.
Ex-Militants Allege Broken Promises in Indian-Kashmir
Aru Pande
Deception, fraud, and dishonesty. Those are the words that Dawood Ahmad uses to sum up a local government rehabilitation policy that allowed him to return home to Indian-controlled Kashmir after spending 22 years in Pakistan.

“The promises they [the government] made that we can come and get rehabilitation here - we haven’t gotten anything,” Ahmad said while holding his young daughter. “We haven’t even been able to get our kids admitted into schools.  My oldest son still has not gotten into school.”

In 1990, a then 15-year-old Ahmad crossed into Pakistan-controlled Kashmir at the start of the armed insurgency. He said he spent one month in a Pakistani training camp before he went to live with his uncle in the city of Rawalpindi.  There, he married, had children and ran his own shop.

After hearing about the new policy, Ahmad said he returned to Indian-controlled Kashmir’s main town of Srinagar last year in order to see his mother and start a new life in his homeland.  It’s a decision he said he regrets after repeatedly being questioned by Indian authorities and his wife not being allowed to visit her ailing mother in Pakistan.

“No one accepts us, we don’t get a card to vote in the elections,” Ahmad said.  “People say we are here illegally.”

Rehabilitation

Authorities said at least 300 people have crossed back into Indian-controlled Kashmir from Pakistan as part of the rehabilitation program.

Indian-controlled Kashmir’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, announced the policy in 2010 to allow militants who allegedly trained in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to return home through Nepal.  Government officials said this is the only route former militants can take since Islamabad is not involved in the process and has consistently denied it has provided help to militants fighting in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

The chief minister’s political secretary, Tanvir Sadiq, said the government wants to extend its hands to former militants so they can regain their lives and not be tempted to take up arms again.

“They were misguided. They went to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and then they wanted to return back because they felt the gun is not the solution. And at times when you are misguided, you do not know what to do,” Sadiq says. “We wanted to provide them with a platform, a way to come back to their homes and be with their families.”

Sadiq concedes there have been issues with implementing the new policy, but that problems with school admission are being worked out.  He emphasizes that while the men are promised help, such as loans, they are not guaranteed employment.

Abdullah’s political secretary said the chief minister is committed to the policy, even speaking out on behalf of former militant Liyaqat Ali Shah, who was detained and later released by New Delhi police in March.

Chief Minister Abdullah said Shah had returned to India to surrender and take part in the rehabilitation policy.  He disputed Delhi police claims that Shah was planning a terrorist attack, telling Kashmiri lawmakers in a strongly worded speech, “if a man comes to attack a shopping mall, will he come with his wife and child … as if he were going on a picnic?”

Peace process

Former militant Ahsanul Haq has been working in his brother’s shoe store in Srinagar for the last year, after spending 23 years in Pakistan.

He said he left Indian-controlled Kashmir at the age of 30 after India failed to keep its word to allow Kashmiris self-determination. Haq said both India and Pakistan have failed to keep their promises for peace, leaving people to suffer on both sides of the Line of Control.

“The son may be here [on the Indian side], the father may be there [in Pakistan].  This is all the same place, it just happens to be divided into two. We want the end of this dividing line," Haq said as he sits behind the counter of the shoe store.

Haq points to the recent deadly cross-border violence in which Pakistani and Indian forces accused each other of violating the cease-fire. He says innocent civilians on either of the border were killed.

“If India and Pakistan opened a dialogue to improve relations and resolved their issues, then Kashmir will benefit and both countries will benefit,” the former militant said.

Haq and Ahmad both said they wish they had not returned to their birthplace and instead could go back to their lives in Pakistan.

Despite their sentiment, more than 1,000 others in Pakistan have applied for the rehabilitation program in hopes of returning home to Indian-controlled Kashmir.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs