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Hope floats for prodigals in PoK

india Updated: Nov 06, 2007 03:30 IST
Anil Anand
Anil Anand
Hindustan Times
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Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir are debating whether there should be an institutional mechanism to bring back youths who want to return home from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

While the Peoples’ Democratic Party and the National Conference are rooting for such a mechanism, the Congress and the BJP don’t find it a good idea.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti felt the “misguided” youth should become part of the peace process. She said the state Congress, with which the PDP has formed the ruling alliance, lacked vision.

Senior National Conference leader AR Rather said: “If Kashmiri youth in the PoK camps want to return, we have no objection. If someone has not committed a heinous crime, he should be brought back.” But the local police should be kept in the loop on all the militant surrenders, he said.

CPM state secretary MY Tarigami said the return of the youth should be done under some mechanism.

“They should come here to become part of the peace process, not to be killed,” he said. Tarigami had moved a resolution in the Assembly suggesting that the Indian and Pakistan governments should jointly facilitate the return of Kashmiri youths, but the Congress and the BJP voted against it.

The Awami National Conference is slated to discuss the matter at its working committee meeting on November 17, said its senior leader Muzaffar Shah. The youth in PoK camps, having seen the “other side”, can become a source of inspiration to their friends back home, he said.

The Congress differs with ally PDP on this matter. “Who will take the responsibility for the credentials of the youths returning from PoK?” asked Pradesh Congress Committee chief Peerzada Mohammed Sayeed. He said those who had committed crimes should be punished. “Jurm ki saza milni hi chahiye.”

State BJP president Ashok Khajuria said any move in this direction would be an “act in self-deception”. “They are not misguided youth as is being made out by certain sections. Even the talk of their return is a well thought out plan to foment trouble. The BJP will oppose it tooth and nail.”