Srinagar, (IANS) Back home and jobless, many locals who returned from across the Line of Control (LoC) under the Jammu and Kashmir government’s rehabilitation policy said Monday they have been left in the lurch.
Dozens of locals who had crossed the LoC during the past 20 years have returned to their homes in the Kashmir Valley after the state government announced its rehabilitation policy for those who return to live normal lives with their families in the state.
Muhammad Lateef Pir, 45, had crossed the LoC in 1994 for obtaining training in firearms. Earlier this year, he came back to the valley with his wife, Saira, 30, from Karachi, and their three-year-old son.
“I would earn around Rs.30,000 a month driving a taxi in Karachi. That would support my family well. I have made a grave mistake by returning,” Pir said.
“I cannot drive a vehicle here because I do not have a valid driving licence. I have no identify, neither a voter ID card nor a state subject certificate or a ration card,” he said.
“The police refuse to give me a character certificate so that I can find a job. Everybody I approach for help declines, asking what was I doing in Pakistan for so long,” Pir added.
His wife Saira said she followed her husband who decided to return to his roots in the valley.
“My husband gave up weapons training in Pakistan. He lived a normal life there after marrying me. We were well settled in Pakistan,” she said. “But, now I repent our decision. I am worried about the education of my son who is likely to suffer for no fault of his.”
Eight other people who had responded to the government’s rehabilitation policy came to the Press Enclave on Residency Road Monday to protest their plight.
Syed Muneer, 42, who belonged to north Kashmir Kupwara district, returned from across the LOC to the Valley early this year.
“I decided to come back as everyone finally returns to his roots. I did not obtain any weapons training in Pakistan but worked honourably to earn a living. I worked in the town planning sector and earned a respectable living,” Muneer said.
“Now I am finding myself in an unenviable position. I somehow managed to admit my child in a local school but the lack of a proper identity of his father would remain a hanging sword over my son’s head,” he said.
Although none of the protestors wants to go back to Pakistan, they felt they have not been given a fair deal by the state government.
“There had been lot of publicity to the rehabilitation policy, but we feel its only aim has been to leave our dear ones high and dry in their homeland after their return,” said Muneer’s relative.
Many senior army and intelligence officials here believe the rehabilitation policy should include those who voluntarily return to the valley from across the LoC as well as former militants who laid down their arms to help security forces in the state.
“Unless the rehabilitation policy includes those who laid down their arms in the state to help bring normalcy, the policy would remain lopsided”, said a senior army official.