Five levels of vetting for former Jammu and Kashmir militants

New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) Security agencies have worked out a five-level verification process for the surrender-and-rehabilitation of Kashmiri militants in Pakistan-administered Kashmir who want to return home, top government sources said here.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who has been working closely with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on the amnesty proposal for several months, announced the plan last week and believes it will be a major confidence building measure for the state.

‘This is a proposal that was thought of five years back but was never translated into action. But with intelligence inputs coming in that many of the boys were keen to return, we decided to go ahead,’ a senior security official told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

‘Many of the militants are just waiting for the authentication process to begin. Some are waiting at the Bangladesh and Nepal borders waiting for the green signal,’ he added, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It is believed that the scheme if implemented properly would benefit over 2,000 people who had in the early 1990s crossed over the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan and are now willing to return without weapons.

According to the procedure laid out, militants will be accepted after a background check by police. The criminal cases against them will not be withdrawn and they will not get a financial rehabilitation package but can join government-sponsored vocational training courses.

‘Cases filed for illegal border-crossing and crimes committed in the state will continue but the government will take a lenient view, taking good behaviour into consideration,’ a security official said

‘Surrendered militants will have to take an oath before authorities to reject militancy.’

People who want their children to return will have to contact the additional deputy inspector general of the state’s criminal investigation department.

Concerns raised by union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad that the return of so many militants could pose a serious danger to security in the state will also be given due consideration.

‘Yes, there may be a possibility that Pakistan might push some hardened militants into the state and therefore there will be extra checks,’ the security official said.

Identification, debriefing, rehabilitation and reintegration of the militants into the system is expected to take some months.

The idea to rehabilitate them on a humanitarian basis was also discussed in May 2006 when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held the second roundtable conference on Kashmir in Srinagar, but the idea did not take off at that time.

(Murali Krishnan can be contacted at m.krish@ians.in)

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