J&K devising plan to rehabilitate youth who quit militancy

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New Delhi: For boys and young men who quit the world of armed militancy to return home in Kashmir, the journey to the mainstream is set to become easier—the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the state government are working toward a comprehensive plan for their rehabilitation, complete with jobs and counselling.

“We will train them in different programmes that will make them employable and ensure that they are fully rehabilitated, emotionally and economically,” S.P Vaid, director general of Jammu and Kashmir Police, told Mint.

While authorities are working on giving the programme a structure, senior officials who are familiar with the plan, said that ex-militants would be trained in a variety of skills so as to enable them to find jobs.

“All efforts are being made by the state to ensure that these young boys have no urge to leave their homes and when they leave militancy and return, they will have a safety net wherein they will be trained in various skills so that they too can be part of the mainstream. The modalities are still being worked out and the programme will be rolled out soon,” said a Union home ministry official, who did not wish to be named.

While the Union home ministry stated that 210 militants were killed by security forces in 2017, according to the state police, 100 young boys—aged 17 to 25—have either voluntarily left militant groups such as the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) over the last six months, or been rescued by police while being taken away to training camps across the border by militant recruiters.

“About 14 young boys, who had joined different militant organizations from the Valley, have returned to their parents. In addition, the state police has also brought back 75 boys who had joined or were about to join the militant groups. And there is no perceived threat to them or their families from the militants, for choosing to return,” Vaid said.

“Militant outfits appear concerned over the new phenomenon of recruits leaving militancy on the appeal of family members. Heeding to the appeals from their parents, two militants recently returned home. The LeT said in a statement that it was an exception allowed by the outfit, because ‘no freedom fighter’ would ever return home,” said an intelligence report reviewed by Mint.

In recent months, security forces—the Indian Army, J&K police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)—have stepped up joint combing and search operations in the valley. At the same time, security forces officers say, disillusionment within militant ranks is a major reason for the young men returning to their homes.

“In the Naxal-affected areas of Chhattisgarh, the state police department has a very strong rehabilitation programme for those men and women who give up Maoist activities and return. Some of them are also absorbed into the police force, which helps the police track down Naxal activities because these people are well-versed with the movement and tactics of Naxals,” said a senior CRPF officer from Bastar region in Chhattisgarh, requesting anonymity. livemint