The Army has prepared a policy for rehabilitation of Kashmiri youth who had joined militancy but are willing to surrender. It is part of the Army’s focus on surrender of local militants, but it is yet to receive the final word on the draft policy, which has been submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Speaking to some journalists, XV Corps Commander Lt General B S Raju Friday said “the policy has been made, it has been sent, it has gone up the chain” but “it has not yet come back”.
“The message I have given to the population is irrespective of the policy existing or not existing, we are ready to go on board and we will do what is appropriate. If the policy comes in, it will give us more strength in offering that as a viable option,” he said.
Raju said “there is already one policy in place” for people “who had gone across to Pakistan” and were allowed to come back. But the proposed policy, he said, “is for people who have taken up arms within the valley”. Raju said he was hopeful that “it will make some difference”.
He said “it (policy) has to be approved by the Home Ministry” and “is between the Defence and Home ministries” now.
“People who have already joined, we are saying you can come back. Mainly because you held a gun and took a photo does not mean you have to die. So, people who have got the weapon have also come back. And that is bigger success to us.”
“The biggest success is when we are able to get to someone from during the operation. That is also where we have had successes, where we have killed two militants, the third one has come back,” he said.
The XV Corps Commander said the Army “will be doing more work on this issue of surrenders, because for us, getting a man back is more important than neutralising him…”.
“We hope to, through our actions, our reachout in a manner where there should be little reason for people to take up arms… There are a large number of components that play a part in it, so we are a very small part. This is something I have shared with the authorities here,” he said.
Raju asserted that “we will do our part, to ensure that we conduct our business in a professional manner, so that we do not become the cause for anybody to cross”.
He said a “lot of times we get families saying that our child is misguided, is on the wrong track or is thinking about it… So these are the indicators for us”. When such cases appear, he said, local commanders approach the youth and also check who the person is meeting.
“In the hinterland we have been able to keep the violence level at a threshold at a level where normal people can continue to do their job,” he said.
Speaking about the number of militants, both domestic and Pakistani, he said, north and south Kashmir “put together have around 200” at the moment “which was like 260 in the beginning of the year”. He attributed the reduced numbers to “close synergy” between all security agencies.
“….it doesn’t give us pleasure to kill people, especially people who have just picked up arms a month back… in every operation we attempt to get people back,” he said.
Lt General Raju said a “number of people have back” but it is not always publicised. He added that the Army has been “able to stop infiltration substantially”. “There is no desire on the part of Pakistan to stop infiltration,” he said.
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