Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah discussed with HT Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram’s amnesty offer to militants, en route from Samba in Jammu to Srinagar, on Thursday. Excerpts:
How do you view the Centre’s decision to accept your proposal on surrender and rehabilitation of militants returning from PoK?
It’s a welcome step. I think the home minister has understood the sensitivity of the situation. It’s time for the process (of reconciliation) to begin. Earlier, many returnees were coming via Nepal and Bangladesh (using false documents) and there were legal complications. Now, we will put in place a legal system that will make their return transparent.
Will it help improve the situation in Kashmir?
It will boost the confidence of the people in our system. But more than that, it will address the question of disappearances, which were being used as a tool (to criticise the government) by human rights bodies. When these ‘disappeared persons’ start reappearing, the questions will disappear.
What role will the state government play in this process?
We will identify the persons, their domicile and monitor their entry. More importantly, we will facilitate their reintegration into the mainstream.
Why have you suddenly raised this demand for a general amnesty for militants?
I had been articulating this demand ever since I returned from Islamabad after meeting then President Pervez Musharraf in March 2006. Many young people (Kashmiris) had met me there saying they wished to return home.
Some say the situation in the Valley is deteriorating again. What is your opinion?
That’s a wrong impression being spread. We had a problem in five police stations in Srinagar. The rest of the Valley was calm and unaffected. I stand for zero tolerance to human rights violations.