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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Former militants to get passport in Kashmir

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, August 01, 2014
First Published: 11:52 IST(1/8/2014) | Last Updated: 12:00 IST(1/8/2014)

The government on Thursday decided to issue passports to former militants for pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and their relatives, which is likely to bring relief to more than 60,000 people. Though, the government has laid down a few riders.

The decision was taken by chief minister Omar Abdullah in Srinagar on Thursday, following a number of representations and requests made by the former militants, their families and political parties.

“In view of t he overall improvement in the security scenario and keeping with its citizen friendly policy, the government has decided to liberalize the policy for issuance of verification for obtaining passports,” said a government spokesman.

The amended policy provides clearance for issuance of passport in favour of applicants whose relatives have crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Pakistan fifteen years ago and are silent there and do not have any adverse report from the concerned security agencies.

The amended policy will allow clearance for obtaining passport for Haj and Umrah to those “who crossed over to Pakistanoccupied Kashmir and Pakistan for obtaining arms training, but has returned, eschewed violence, is silent, has exhibited a good conduct and completed fifteen years or more in the state”.

This will bring relief to around 20,000 surrendered militants and their families in the Valley. Around 60,000 cases of passports were held because of security clearance with applicants having militant past.

However, these fresh guidelines have no provision for issuing such clearance in respect of an applicant whose militant relative is across the border.

“There is no explicit provision to deal with the cases of such youth who had not returned to the state from across the border,” said the government spokesman.

“Allowing people on pilgrimage though is a big step,” he added.

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