Centre's offer of amnesty to Kashmir youths delights their relatives

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Srinagar, Feb 15 (ANI): The Union Government's offer to grant general amnesty to the youths, who went to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) but now want to return by giving up arms has delighted their family members and relatives in the Valley.

Many families in the Kashmir Valley are now waiting for the reunion with their children who turned rebellious over the years.

Recently, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said anyone willing to give up militancy is a welcome to their homeland.

The Centre has, for the first time offered amnesty to youth from Kashmir who had crossed over to the Pakistan occupied Kashmir but now willing to surrender and return home.

It's been 11 years since 53-year-old Mohammad Shafi Bhatt saw his son, Mushtaq Ahmed, who was just 22 when he crossed the India-Pakistan border along with others for arms training. He says that the Centre's initiative has shown Bhatt a ray of hope that he would be reunited with his son.

"I have heard of the policy. In my view, if this policy is implemented, it will be beneficial for the young people who crossed the border. They were very young and innocent at the time they left," said Mohammad Shafi.

"They didn't know what they would be told to do over there, so now they are realizing their mistake and hence want to return to their place and live with their families," he added.

Ahmed, who left behind his wife, Haseena, and two children, soon realized that he made a big mistake and since then he has been finding ways to return back to his family.

"Within a month of crossing the border, he (Mushtaq) realized his mistake and now he wants to come back. He led a healthy and normal life here," said Hilal Bhatt, Mushtaq's brother.

"The government should make provisions for their employment so that they can become independent and start their life afresh," he added.

Hundreds of youths crossed over to PoK in the last three decades to join terror groups.

Many died while crossing the Line of Control (LoC) to sneak into the Indian side and it was also said that many more are living in different parts of Pakistan and PoK.

The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah after Centre's announcement stated that his government's main job is to collect details of youths who had gone over to PoK in the past three decades so that their return could be facilitated. By Parvez Butt (ANI)

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