Amid escalating tensions and increased border skirmishes between India and Pakistan, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has sought opening of more travel and trade routes across the Line of Control (LoC).
In her meetings with home minister Rajnath Singh and defence minister Manohar Parrikar, Mufti said the move will enhance the movement of people and goods on both sides of the de-facto border.
The CM reiterated her demand for regularisation of the Nepal route for Kashmiri youth who crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for militant training but now want to return and start their lives afresh.
Mufti argued that in the absence of such a regularised route, the youth returning to Jammu and Kashmir are facing “innumerable problems”.
According to Jammu and Kashmir government estimates, a total of 1,253 people, including 197 women and 603 children, have returned from Pakistan and PoK under the return and rehabilitation policy of cross border youth since 2010-11. As many as 453 people had returned via Nepal since then. However, the process suffered a setback in 2013 following the arrest of Liyaqat Shah and his family at the Nepal border.
The policy and procedure was notified in November 2010 after getting the clearance from the Union home ministry. There are still around 4,000 J&K residents in PoK and Pakistan, according to J&K government figures.
The J&K chief minister also raised with the home minister the issue of revision of ex-gratia scheme -- financial assistance provided on compassionate grounds to the next of kin of those killed in militancy-related incidents -- in the state.
She sought revision of the existing rates of compensation and ex-gratia besides including new components such as loss of livestock in the scheme.
Mufti urged the home minister to enhance the honorarium paid to special police officers under the prime minister’s development programme.
In her meeting with Parrikar, Mufti stressed the need for handing over the land at Tattoo Ground in Srinagar – used by the army -- to the state government for promoting tourism activities. The state government has also been demanding revision of rent on the state’s land used by the army.