It was an emotional reunion for the families of the 24 terrorists who surrendered before the army in a surrender ceremony held near the Line of Control in Uri on Friday.
When 17 years back, Abdul Salam Lone left his house to seek arms training in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), he could have never imagined returning to his native place as an old man.
Over these years, this young man had grown frail; his hair turned silver and is still unmarried. “This time I realise what I did in the past was a wrong step. I crossed over to PoK in 1990. In the training camp, I was trained in handling different types of arms and explosives for three months,” said Abdul Salam Lone, sitting along with his two young nieces Kulsoom and Shanu who had traveled all the way from village Nathipora to see their uncle for the first time.
Lone said that he always tried to come home but was not allowed to cross the LoC. Losing heart, Lone said that he left the camp to work as a salesman at a video game parlor at Medina market in Muzuffarabad. “For many years, I was running the shop to earn my livelihood,” he said.
And last month, Lone said that the terrorist leaders decided to launch him along with five other terrorists into the Valley from Uri sector. “We were handed over to two guides; who took us to LoC. There only all of us decided to surrender,” he said adding none of members of his group were happy with the ongoing terrorism.
Expressing his disappointment over the attitude of leaders in Pakistan, Lone said all the Kashmiri boys who are in the training camps are fed up with the violence and want to return to their native place. “Things are really bad for Kashmiri’s in the training camps across,” he said.
Around ten members of Lone’s family including his brothers, sisters, cousins and nieces had come to take him home. “For our family today is another Idd,” said Kulsooma, Lone’s niece. “I am meeting my uncle for the first time as I was not born then, when my uncle had crossed the LoC, we can’t believe that he (Lone) is alive and chatting with us,” she said.
Lone’s elder brother, Abdul Ahad Lone who is the village numberdar said that his foremost priority now would be to get his younger brother married. “I am planning to get him (Lone) married,” he said. “Even I am not afraid of anybody, my brother ruined his life for the false claims of Azadi (freedom). Now, I won’t let him get ruined again.”
Another surrendered terrorist, Fayaz Ahmad Lone said that terrorists had forced him to join their ranks some 16 years ago. “I was kidnapped from my village,” he said. “I was trained in arms and ammunition for three months. But, the camp leaders were rude to Kashmiri boys.”
Adding he said, “Once our group was sent back, we contacted the Indian Army for surrender right on the LoC.”
While relatives of all the terrrorists had come to see their loved ones, 50 years old Shah Begum could not hold her tears back as she saw her son 21 years old Hamid after seven years.
“He was 14 when terrorists kidnapped him from his house, we were not aware, was he alive or not, we were not in his contacts, today we feel rejoiced that my son is back” said Shah Begum.
Hamid’s father Ghulam Kadir Lone (90) said that it was his dying wish to see his son for the last time, “he is my younger son, from my second wife, I always prayed to Allah to let me meet my son before I close my eyes and today Allah granted my wish.”
General Officer Commanding 19 Division, Maj Gen Ramesh Halgali said this is the largest surrender of the terrorists near the Line of Control. “Terrorists who laid down their weapons were affiliated with Hizbul Mujahideen, Takreek-i-Jihad and Hizb-e-Islami terrorist groups,” he said. “All these terrorists who surrendered would be allowed to live as free citizens.”