The arrest of suspected Hizbul Mujahideen militant Liyaqat Shah has drawn a sharp reaction from the Jammu and Kashmir government.
While the Delhi Police claimed that Shah was a militant who was planning to orchestrate attacks in the city around Holi, sources in the J&K government said he was returning to the state from Pakistan via Nepal under its government’s rehabilitation policy for former militants.
The Omar Abdullah government is likely to take up the matter with the home ministry, fearing that the arrest might deal a blow to its flagship programme aimed at bringing militants back into the mainstream.
“We knew about Shah’s return. He is not an active militant. He was returning home with his wife and his 19-year-old daughter. Even the Intelligence Bureau knew about his return. We had told Delhi police not to take any action,’’ said a J&K police official.
According to sources, Shah was travelling in a train from Gorakhpur. His first wife Ameena Begum said that Shah had called her a few days ago, telling her about his return on a proper visa. She said the whereabouts of his second wife and daughter, who were with him, are not known as she had not heard from them.
Around 233 men — 117 with families — have returned to Kashmir in the past one year after chief minister Abdullah announced a rehabilitation policy for militants. The returnees usually come home informally through Nepal and then by road to Kashmir, with the authorities going soft on the travellers.