The Kashmir government’s surrender and rehabilitation policy for militants must have reasonable control mechanisms
It is important to have an institutional mechanism in place which will open up options for those keen to leave militancy. But such a policy may go haywire, especially in the Kashmir Valley, if it is not backed by reasonable control mechanismsopinion Updated: Jan 09, 2018 16:53 IST
The unrest in the Kashmir Valley in 2016 seriously challenged the security apparatus. But thanks to sustained efforts, the situation was brought under control. However, a major challenge remains: The recruitment of locals by terrorist organisations. This needs to be reduced through well-planned interventions. And it can be done. Take, for example, the Majid Khan case. The 20-year-old from Anantnag, who had joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), surrendered to the police in November. Of the many factors that led to his return, the rescue of an injured militant, Aqib Iqbal Malik, by security forces could be the main one. Taking a cue from the Majid case, several families have appealed to their men to return.
The option of reintegration is a sound counter-insurgency doctrine. It has proved useful in the Naxal-dominated areas and in the Northeast. In the Valley, the formal surrender and rehabilitation policy came into force in 2004, followed by a package for the surrender and rehabilitation for those who joined militancy and remained in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The second policy did not have anything to offer to fresh recruits. As a result of these polices, local recruitment remained dormant. But it increased after the media’s extensive coverage of young men posing with arms and posting photographs of themselves on social media. After the 2016 unrest, this number rose significantly. Considering that the Valley in 2017 witnessed the elimination of more than 200 militants – the most in a decade – exploring a policy of getting some of those back into the mainstream while putting in place a system to stall recruitment seems an appropriate measure.
It is important to have an institutional mechanism which will offer options for those keen to abandon militancy. But such a policy may go haywire, especially in the Kashmir Valley, if it is not backed by reasonable control mechanisms.
Apart from protecting the individual who wants to come back to the mainstream and fostering trust in him, the State must make regulations to ensure that the policy is not exploited by subversive elements. For instance, in the Naxal belt, there are reports of fake surrenders by people keen to grab State benefits. Such a policy should attract people genuinely keen to amalgamate themselves in the mainstream.
Any surrender policy must have built-in measures to prevent misuse. For instance, to tackle ISIS recruitment, Britain came up with a plethora of control orders. They were better than the French system, which had a stringent prosecution apparatus. If lessons from the British model – overnight stay control, association control, travel control, electronic gadget-control measures – are incorporated in our systems, the results could be rewarding.
Swayam Prakash Pani is an IPS officer
The views expressed are personal