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J&K approves rehabilitation policy for PoK youth

By Mukhtar Ahmad
November 23, 2010 13:48 IST

The Jammu and Kashmir government has approved a 'rehabilitation policy' facilitating the return of youth who had crossed over to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir since 1990 for arms training.

The youth whose exact number has not been disclosed by the government have as per officials "shown willingness to return to the Valley" following which the chief minister formulated a 'rehabilitation policy' which has been put in place now with the approval of the union home ministry.

The policy for the return of the militants from PoK was a major decision of the Omar Abdullah government which he announced immediately after taking over as CM in January 2008.

It was approved by the state cabinet which met in winter capital Jammu on Monday under the chairmanship of the state chief minister. Unrolling of the policy was not, however, a smooth run as the ruling coalition partner Congress was not happy with it.

Official sources said the government will now constitute a high level committee which will be the 'final authority to clear the cases under the policy'.

The sources, however, made it clear that the policy will be applicable only to those 'who shun the path of violence and return to mainstream'.

Under the policy, the parents of the youth will apply to the district police chief's of their respective districts certifying that 'their wards want to return and live a normal life'.

The district police chiefs will scrutinize the applications and then issue orders after clearance from various concerned agencies.

"Once they enter the Valley they will be arrested and later shifted to counselling centres," the sources added.

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar