Centre offers new ‘policy’ for Kashmir youth willing to give up arms

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NEW DELHI: In a bid to encourage gun-wielding youth in Kashmir to lay down their arms and return to their families, the government of India has rolled out a youth-friendly policy that promises amnesty from prosecution for local militants who would shun the path of militancy, officials said on Sunday.

The policy, according to an official, is the brainchild of the National Security Council (NSC) in New Delhi and lays special emphasis on “providing a gun-wielding local youth every chance to return and live a peaceful life”.

The top official, privy to the policy titled “re-integration policy for the misguided youth”, said it guarantees amnesty from prosecution for local militants giving up arms.

“This will raise the morale of the youth who have joined various militant ranks and want to return to live a normal life,” he said, wishing not to be named as he wasn’t authorised to speak to the media. 

“If a local boy shuns militancy, he won’t be prosecuted for whatever the crime he has committed,” the official said.

The fresh proposal comes at a time when official figures suggest a steep increase in recruitment of local youth into the militancy fold in Kashmir.

Top army officials assert that as many as 191 local youth picked up arms in 2018. In 2017, the figure was 126. 

The northern army commander based in Udhampur, lieutenant general Ranbir Singh, recently stated that 450 militants were active in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Another major attraction of the new policy is that a militant who would surrender will enjoy full immunity from presenting himself before the police or any other security agency, the official said.

“If a surrendered militant gets a job, he won’t be disqualified from the job on the basis of his past record,” the policy mentions.

“It also promises financial assistance for youth who lay down their weapons, to start a business of their own. For that, they will get a special loan with subsidy and special grants,” the official said, reading out the provisions in the policy, which also offers subsidy in fee for children of surrendered militants in schools, colleges, universities and technical institutions within and outside the state.

“If such a person intends to work abroad, he would be provided special assistance in getting a job in the country he wishes to,” the official said.

He said after every two years, the performance of the individual (who surrenders) will be reviewed through a proper monitoring mechanism “to see whether the person has fully integrated.”

Another top official, also in know-how of the policy, said: “It is a positive step and will encourage youth to join mainstream. The only difference between the surrender policy rolled out by former chief minister Omar Abdullah in 2010 is that the new one has lot of relaxation for the youth willing to surrender. The new policy is an attractive one”.

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