JAMMU, May 30: Over the last two and a half decades, more than 4000 youth from Jammu and Kashmir crossed over to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) for arms training. These young men have repeatedly been calling their families and relatives seeking facilitation of their return, but Intelligence and security agencies have reservations that some of them, if allowed to return, could be recycled into militancy.
As per the details given to a local daily, the youth mostly hailing from the Kashmir valley, Chenab Valley and twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, were held up in PoK as they were unable to return to the State due to fencing and series of anti-infiltration measures taken by the security forces. While a majority of 4000 youths were camping in PoK, there were very few, who have been staying in parts of Pakistan.
According to sources, around 300 to 400 of the J&K youths were still living with the militants either in their camps or launching pads and can be even termed as “active militants”, while others have taken to menial jobs to earn their livelihood in order to feed their wives and children, as a good number of them are already married there.
Most of these youths had ex-filtrated to PoK from the Line of Control (LoC) during the nineties and almost all of them had undergone training in various militant camps of Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Al-Badr, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami among others. However, they couldn’t infiltrate back to Jammu and Kashmir due to the mechanism put in place by the security agencies on the LoC including fencing.
Confirming that number of families of the youths stranded in PoK have received calls seeking intentions of the youths to return home, sources said they wanted their families to facilitate their return as they were fed up with their miserable lives in PoK and other parts.
Under the regime of NC-Congress, headed by then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, a `Rehabilitation Policy’ was devised to initiate the return of the youth held up in PoK but none of them took advantage of the policy as it covered only four routes for return including Poonch-Rawlakote and Uri-Muzaffarabad routes along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, Wagah border in Amritsar district of Punjab and Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in New Delhi.
The policy couldn’t succeed as Pakistan army and ISI maintained strict vigil over stranded youths/militants to ensure that they didn’t cross from the four identified routes. Over 200 youths returned with their wives and children from Nepal route. Though they were allowed to return from Nepal route under previous UPA regime headed by the Congress at the Centre, they couldn’t avail the benefits under the ‘Rehabilitation Policy’.
Sources said the Intelligence agencies believe that if allowed to return, these men could become security risk as some of them could be lured by the militants to join militancy while some others could be planted by the agencies from across the border.