By K.N. Pandita
Some time back State government took the decision of facilitating disillusioned Kashmiri youth desirous of returning to the mother land. More than once, Chief Minister expressed his government’s support to the decision. After the elections to Legislative Assembly in 1986, separatists groups, mostly the remnants of the erstwhile Plebiscite Front and of defunct Al Fath organization put up a joint front by the name of Muslim United Front (MUF) to challenge the results of just concluded elections to LA. ISI seized upon the opportunity and chalked out the plan of alluring disgruntled and indoctrinated Kashmiri youth to the terrorist training camps which the ISI had established for conducting the proxy war in Kashmir. The route adopted by the drafted Kashmiri Muslim youth was Srinagar-Sopor-Kupwara and the other side of the mountains. Taking advantage of ineffective or promiscuous state government and ambivalent intelligence and security establishment, Kashmiri youth, in drones, headed towards numerous terrorist training camps across the LoC established and run by retired Pakistani army officers.
Travel mode was set forth in the Kashmiri slogan “Sopor-Kupwor teh apor” meaning Sopor-Kupwara and the other side. Hundreds of youth, keeping their arms training adventure a closely guarded secret, even from their parents, came to these camps to the great delight of Pakistani mentors who had successfully managed procurement of easy fodder for the Indian guns. Alongside training in terrorist tactics, they were brainwashed to remove even the smallest traces of Kashmiriyat. Obviously, these young boys were meted out king size treatment in the beginning to fuel anti-India flames burning within their breast. Such was the level of brain washing that some of them captured by Indian security forces in encounters, confessed that they would have gunned down even their parents and family members if the organization so demanded of them. Recollect Bitta Karate’s televised interview.
But when the ISI found that its conspiracy had begun to boomerang, and the Kashmiri youth lured to training camps were proving ineffective in making slightest headway in Kashmir operations, they began to withdraw their feet and gradually left them to their fate. At the same time the disillusioned youth also began to understand how their precious lives were being sacrificed for no real purpose. Many of them, after crossing the LoC clandestinely surrendered to the Indian security forces and explained the atrocities to which the ISI and Pakistani establishments subjected them. At the same time, those erstwhile Kashmiri militants stranded in PoK and Pakistan, owing to their refusal to carry fire and brimstone to their homeland and compatriots in the alley, brought out public demonstrations and rallies against Pakistan government and demanded that they be repatriated. Through their relatives back in the valley they appealed to the State government for amnesty. The State government considered the issue in its entirety and decided that on humanitarian grounds and on the basis of bringing relief to the affected families, took a very humanistic view and got the approval from the cabinet to the rehabilitation of the disillusioned youth with certain conditions. The conditions are mostly pertaining to legal and juridical aspects of the case. The Union Home Ministry gave its nod to the Rehabilitation Policy and things were set to become easy for resolving the issue. But then Pakistan government put a spoke in the wheel and raised a number of issues that created strong hurdles in the path of normalizing return of the misguided youth to their native place in Kashmir.
Pakistan’s problem is that the Kashmiri youth returning home will expose all the conspiracies and canards hatched by the ISI and Pakistani establishment in regard to their proxy war in Kashmir. This would immensely harm and discredit Pakistan’s Kashmir stand, which, however, after Faigate has met with sharp downslide. Their expositions after return would further distance the Kashmiri youth from pro-Pak propensity. Having spent a long time in self-imposed exile, these people have married Pakistani girls and fathered kids but they want to return along with the families they have raised. This is also a part of the problem that surrounds their return. In any case, notwithstanding these angularities, the Home Ministry has recommended to the MEA to take up the issue with Pakistan at proper platform and find a solution to put the long wait of these deluded persons to an end. It is but natural that the government at various levels will verify fully the antecedents of the returnees because it is also a security issue. Neither the State government nor the Home Ministry can take things for granted. The returnees are to be treated with sympathy but not at the cost of national security. This much has to be made clear to them.