SRINAGAR: In a first such move, police reached out to families of at least 30 active militants in unrest hotbed of Shopian in south Kashmir in Jammu and Kashmir and urged the families to counsel their militant sons to return and join the mainstream and proper care would be taken of their rehabilitation.
“We are in touch with the militant families. It is a routine process. We called them for a joint meeting with top officials yesterday and families of at least 30 active militants attended the interaction,” Superintendent of Police (SP) Shopian, Ambarkar Shriram Dinkar told New Indian Express.
It was for the first time that police had reached out to the families of militants and invited them for interaction with top police officials.
Dinkar said the militant families during the interaction were very emotional as all of them have gone through the continuous trauma, pain and fear as they don’t know whether their militant sons may or may not return alive.
“They reposed faith and trust in police because they all want their family members back with them. They all shared their views openly with each other and with the officials. Every family shared the circumstances in which their loved ones left their homes and joined the militant ranks,” he said.
At least 88 youth had joined militancy last year and the figure is said to be 80-90 this year.
The police official said they assured the families of militants that “we are there to help them out.”
Asked whether the families sought guarantees for return of their militant sons to mainstream, Dinkar said, “We assured the families that doors to mainstream are open to the misguided youth and every care will be taken for their dignified rehabilitation if they shun the path of violence and join mainstream”.
“We told them that they should continue their efforts to woo back their children from the militancy. We also told them that they should help the administration in bringing their wards back to mainstream,” he said.
Expressing hope that the local militants would give up militancy and join mainstream, Dinkar said, “We are hopeful that our efforts would help in bringing back militant youth to mainstream. During yesterday’s interaction, some families using the social media platform made compassionate appeals to their militant sons to give up militancy and join family”.
At least four youth including footballer-turned-militant Majid Khan have given up militancy and returned to their families from last month after appeals by their family members to give up gun and return home.
The police, army and paramilitary officials have been repeatedly urging the local militants to surrender and lay down weapons and join mainstream.
Dinkar said police have arrested some militants during the live encounters in Valley this year.
“We are exercising restraint during the encounters to allow the local militants to surrender. There is a lot of difference in our approach from what used to be in the past,” he said.
Asked whether in future police would take families of militants to encounter sites to appeal the militants to surrender during gunfights, SP Shopian said, “It depends on the situation and safety of the people. During the gunfight, it is difficult to take the civilians there. However, if the situation demands, we would do it.”
“We are hopeful that more youth would give up militancy and return to their homes. After positive response of our interaction with militant families, we would be holding more such interactions so that the families can counsel their wards to give up guns and return to mainstream and have a secure and safe future,” added Dinkar.