October 24, 2013 12:55:03 am
The Army has arrested 23 people,including six surrendered militants and their family members,for trying to exfiltrate to Pakistans Muzaffarabad. In a first,the families attempted to enter Pakistan Occupied Kashmir by crossing the Line of Control.
While the Army and the Jammu and Kashmir Police are silent on the arrests,sources said the people were arrested in Keran sector. Police sources said they had returned to the Valley under a rehabilitation programme for surrendered militants and their kin.
The 23 include six men,four women and 13 children. They have been handed over to the police.
When contacted,Defence spokesman N C Vij said,We have nothing to do with it. It has been done by the police. Senior police officers in Kashmir were unavailable for comment.
This is the second such incident in two months. In August,the families of three militants clandestinely returned to Pakistan via Nepal,reportedly because they felt the government failed to fulfill promises made to them under the rehabilitation programme. This time,the families took a more dangerous route.
In the past two years,265 people who had no police cases in the Valley have returned to Kashmir,many with their wives and children. Another 1,089 have sought permission to return.
But the arrest of Liyaqat Ali Shah by the Delhi Police earlier this year and the difficulty faced by surrendered militants in getting school admission for their children has forced a rethink among several families.
Most families that returned to the Valley are struggling for survival. Our children are not given admission in schools here, said a former militant who returned last year.In these circumstances,if anybody is given a chance,he would love to go back to Pakistan.
Among the 23 arrested was JKLF founder Maqbool Bhats brother Zahoor Ahmad Bhat,who returned to the Valley in February 2009 after spending 20 years in Pakistan.
Not long afterward,he addressed a rally in his native Trehgam village,and was arrested by police the next day. Since then,he had been detained several times.
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