Former J&K militants’ Pakistani wives hold protest

Srinagar, April 15: The Pakistani wives of many former militants who returned home under the state government’s rehabilitation policy staged a protest in summer capital Srinagar Tuesday, alleging that the government has done nothing to help their families.

Dozens of women who came to the Valley along with their husbands who had gone across the border to obtain weapons training but returned home in response to the rehab policy for former militants announced by the state government, gathered at the Press Enclave in Srinagar threatening suicide if their demands were not met.

“Allow us to return to Pakistan or provide us the needed facilities to settle along with our husbands and children in Kashmir.

“We have no identity, no ration cards, no schools agree to admit our children, our husbands are not accepted as normal human beings by the local society nor do they have the means to support their families,” said a Pakistani woman who came here from Bagh area of Pakistan-administered Kashmir with her husband and two children.

She also alleged that the state government was not issuing them travel documents to return to Pakistan.

The protests occurred a day after a Pakistani woman Saira Bhat, 30, set herself on fire in Naidkhai area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district.

She was admitted to a Srinagar hospital where she succumbed to burn injuries.

Saira was the mother of three children. Her husband, Javaid Ahmad Bhat, had gone to Pakistan in 1993 to get weapons training but returned in 2012 in response to the state government’s rehab policy for militants abjuring violence and returning to their homes in Jammu and Kashmir.

Bhat had married Saira in Pakistan.

The fate of dozens of such families hangs in the balance since they have scant means of livelihood and even social acceptability.

“We are surrendered militants for the people and worthless for the government because they feel we have outlived our publicity value,” said a former militant whose wife was among the protesters.

IANS