Umer Bashir, a college student and the son of a former militant, was born and brought up at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. A bright B.Com undergraduate in his land of birth, his academic career is under threat in the land of his father's birth.
Umer crossed over a year ago
into this part of Kashmir along with his father, a resident of south Kashmir, and other siblings after the state government offered amnesty to Kashmiri youth went to PoK for arms training in 1990s but instead settled there and married local women.
For authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, Umer and his other siblings are non-state subjects and, hence, not eligible for admission in government schools, colleges or universities.
"I was getting quality education in Muzaffrabad but since we have come to this part of Kashmir, I haven't been able to get education as various institutes are refusing to admit me. We are betrayed like most of the families who returned to the Valley," Umer, who lives in charigam village of Pahalgam, said.
For the past one and a half years, he has been moving from pillar to post to realise his dreams of professional excellence. But now his resilience is falling apart.
Umer said the much-hyped rehabilitation policy had made their life miserable as they were being summoned to police stations and courts frequently for seeking clearance to get admission and other verifications.
"Education is the basic right and no country in the world deprives its citizens from this basic right, but, unfortunately, we are being deprived of this right and my dream to make it big in life by achieving higher education has shattered, we, too, have the right to education. We want to live a free life here," he said.
Umer's Father, Bashir Ahmad, a tourist photographer in Pahalgam strives hard to get both ends meet for the reason that former militants are not given clearance certificates by police for government jobs or loans from banks.
Umer is now apprehensive of his brother's career, who was a Class-10 student back in Muzaffrabad, now, spends his time loitering in the alleys of his new habitat.
"We approached so many schools of this area for his (brother's) admission but they want us to get a formal permission from J&K Board of School Education. After we were thrown out of the CEO (chief education officer) Anantnag, we came to Srinagar to meet the director school but to no avail. We are suffering, and suffering miserably."
Umer alleged that the J&K government has virtually imprisoned them and denied the basic rights of life. He demanded that they should be given right to education and provided state subjects and other travel documents "so that we can feel we have returned to our real ancestral home."
He said if the J&K government was reluctant to give them citizenship and other facilities, it should facilitate their return back to Muzaffrabad, "to live happily as they used to live."
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