The return journey of terrorists from across the Line of Control (LoC) has begun in substantive manner and it is expected to pick up speed as distressed calls for their return to their homes in the Jammu and Kashmir valley have become the loudest ever.
At least 49 of them have successfully completed their return journey, laid down their arms and rejoined with their families. Some of them, who had married there, have returned with their wives and children. All of them have said that those still there were an "agonised lot" and desperate to return.
This has shown a complete reversal of the days of 'Pindi Chalo' of early 1990s, when the Kashmiri youth fired by imagination of the liberation of their motherland would embark on buses to the border towns for their onward journey through mountains to across the LoC.
"We were humiliated, condemned as cowards and discriminated against," Zhao Ahmad, one of the terrorists who surrendered before the Army in November last year, had told reporters.
They were "fed up with the wretched life over there," Brig Manito Singh, Deputy General Officer commanding of 19 Infantry Division, told Hindustan Times over phone.
The process of their return is a big story in itself. Their feelers are brought by the guides living on borders. The place of their entry is decided. Guides whisper their arrival to security forces. Their antecedents are verified through local police - families are contacted. It is like designing questionnaire for the two sides-terrorists and their families. Answers are matched. Then the return journey begins.
"Then they reach LoC, we do not fire at them," Brig Manjit Singh said. The only condition is that they should their weapons along with them. So far, they have brought with them 36 Ak-47 rifles, 53 pistols, and one Under Barrel Grenade Launcher and four rocket launchers.
Though there is no direct evidence available that the return journey of the terrorists had anything to do with an olive branch held out by the government. Prime Minister had delivered a soothing message for this set of Kashmiri terrorists, desperate to return to their homes from across the Line of Control. "In the light of the changing environment, we are reviewing the cases of all detainees. Included in this review is a review of cases of those crossed over violating our laws and who are now anxious to come home."
There are more than 3,000 terrorists who are now in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Many of them had sent the messages of their desperation to return to their homes in the State. Their plea was conveyed to prime minister by National Conference, PDP and All-Parties Hurriyat Conference leaders during their meeting with the prime minister before the Second RTC.
Now the dream of these desperate people to return to their homes – at the moment living with ever live creeping line of dread across the LoC – is getting realised.