In the name of rehabilitation, successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir convinced many militants to surrender. But contrary to official assurances, many youths found that far from leading normal lives after surrendering, they are still languishing behind bars.
In July 2003, the then state finance minister Muzzaffar Hussain Baig along with senior police officials made a statement that all militants who surrendered would be rehabilitated and given Rs 2,000 every month.
More importantly, the minister had stated that all cases against the youths would be withdrawn.
After the statement was made, many militants belonging to various groups active in the state surrendered but found themselves arrested again and imprisoned.
Take the case of Tariq Hussain Mattoo, who was a cadet with the Hizbul Mujahideen, the largest militant outfit in the state. Mattoo was persuaded by his family members and friends to shun the path of violence. He took their advice and surrendered before the police. After a week of his surrender, he was arrested under a case of murder of the sarpanch (headman) of his native village. The sarpanch had been killed by unidentified militants when Mattoo was a militant as well.
Mattoo is now in the Kot Balwal central jail for the past three years without any charge against him.
His brother-in-law Mohammed Ashraf told HT, "Tariq (Mattoo) is not involved in any such murder. His family members and friends after many efforts motivated him to surrender. When he surrendered, some people with personal vested interests and political backgrounds filed a murder case against him."
"Three years have passed since he has been arrested. We have spent each and every penny to make his release possible. But the public prosecutor is demanding a bribe of Rs 1 lakh to dismiss his case," Ashraf said.
"We are very poor and cannot afford such a huge amount. We are demanding that the government implement its promise of rehabilitation of surrendered militants," he said.
Another instance is that of Parvez Ahmed Kichloo, who surrendered before a court in April 2004. He also persuaded 12 other militants to surrender in June 2006.
But all these militants were arrested under various charges and are still behind bars.
Pervez's father Ghulam Nabi Kichloo told HT, "I convinced my son to surrender because of the rehabilitation policy of the state government but five years have passed and there is no sign of my son being released."
"I wrote a letter in July 2006 to the then president of India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the then chief minister of the state Ghulam Nabi Azad and many others but no one has replied so far," the distraught father said.
Jammu Inspector General of Police K. Rajendra told HT, "Surrender doesn't come under general amnesty. If any militant who has been involved in any strong offence would have to go through the legal process. The rehabilitation policy is for those persons who have not been charged with serious offences. They would be given a stipend of Rs 2,000 per month for three years and the amount of Rs 1.5 lakh as a fixed deposit in his account."