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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

Yearning for normal life, sordid tale of Kashmir's former militants

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, July 16, 2013
First Published: 13:13 IST(16/7/2013) | Last Updated: 13:15 IST(16/7/2013)

Security agencies in Kashmir are maintaining a strict vigil on recycling of former militants but Ashiq Hussain Narchoor, a former militant, who is detained every now and then, is a testimony of the possible reasons behind the trend.

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Narchoor (30), a resident of south Kashmir's Mattan area, came under the security forces' radar in 2005 whsen a Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit's module was busted.

Arrested in 2005, Narchoor's name figured among 15 militants identified by the police from Anantnag district, 60 km south of Srinagar. He served five-year term at Jammu's Koth Bhalwal jail and was released in 2010.

"While most militants arrested with him were released much earlier, my son was jailed for five years because we were too poor to pursue his case," said Haneefa Akhtar, Narchoor's mother, who tends the family of four after her husband left her around 30 years ago.

Yearning for a normal life, Narchoor, youngest of the siblings, pursued his studies in the jail to shoulder responsibilities at home as the family is facing a grave financial crisis.

"I completed my graduation in the jail. It has been hard to restart my life. I am still struggling to get a decent job," said Narchoor, who teaches at a private school and also acquired a degree in Bachelor in Education recently.

Last Friday, Narchoor was detained at the police station, Sherbagh, for a night to question him about the threat posters pasted in the area against 33 civilians allegedly by militants.

"We do not pick up innocent people. We detained him as part of the investigation and released later," said a senior police official, insisting not to be named.

This was umpteenth time since 2010 that Narchoor spent a night in the jail. "Whether it's January 26 or August 15 or any militant attack in the district or the Valley, my son is picked up for questioning. He has already been picked up three times this year. Sometimes he is made to spend days together in the police station," alleged Akhtar.

"The police are trying to implicate him. I fear for his life," she added.

While the government has a rehabilitation policy for those ready to return from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, around 20,000 former militants, though the figure is conservative, continue to struggle to lead a normal life.

There are allegations by several former militants that the police are forcing them to work as informers, which puts their lives in danger from both sides.

Two former militants in Handwara district rejoined the militant ranks after frequent police chase in 2012. Among recruits of Lashkar-e-Toiba in 2012, as many as 50 were youths, who accused the police of harassment and frequent detention.

Atir Ahmad Dar, a resident of north Kashmir's Sopore, was killed in December last year. His family says he participated in the 2012 street protests and was chased by the police since then.

There were similar allegations in the cases of two other slain militants, Omar Ahsan Bhat alias Khitab and Muzamil alias Urfi, both in twenties.

Most former and surrendered militants are caught up between devil and the deep sea. In many cases, they rejoin the militant ranks rather than working as security forces' informers.


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