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

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess 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.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs