The return of 117 Kashmiris from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in the last one year has gladdened many hearts, but the largely informal government amnesty which made this possible has not accounted for the wives and children these men brought back.
For the returnees, dreams of a fresh start in Jammu and Kashmir are souring fast because their children are not getting admission in schools and colleges. Moreover, their wives have no access to their kin in PoK.
The state has not given the wives and children of the returnees, who had crossed the Line of Control in the 1990s during the sweep of militancy, the mandatory permanent resident certificates.
"Due to unexplained practical issues, the returnees were forced to come home informally through Nepal and then by road to Kashmir, with authorities going soft on the travellers. This informal entry deprived their wives and children the official recognition that comes with the resident certificate," a state government official who did not want to be named said on Sunday.
Mohammad Ashraf 45, who returned to Srinagar nine months ago with his wife and four children, said, "We never expected the schools to shun our children."
Ashraf's eldest daughter was studying in Class 12 in PoK when he decided to return. For the last few months, she was allowed to informally attend classes at a government school. "Now, they are telling me she cannot appear in the coming examinations."
Ahsan-ul-Haq, 52, who returned three months ago with his wife and five children, is equally bitter. "Our children are feeling alienated after repeatedly being denied admission by the schools here."