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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid