Amid PDP-BJP differences, Rehab Policy for militants blocked

BJP wants Govt order to withdraw Tribal Policy minutes

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Mar 20: Differences emerged between two coalition partners-PDP and BJP over ‘Rehabilitation Policy for Militants’, which was blocked by the BJP in the Cabinet today as the Policy drafted by the Home Department, held by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, proposed to give Rs 6 lakh to every militant, who surrenders besides job schemes and massive hike in cash for handing over arms, ammunition and explosives. The amount for surrender was more than what the Government gives to a civilian killed by the terrorists or Pakistani firing in the State while the surrendered militant was due to get Rs 4000 monthly interest, which was almost at par with what educated youths were getting under ‘Fixed Pay Policy’ of the Government under SRO 202.

The differences also persisted over minutes of proposed `Tribal Policy’ as the BJP wanted an official order for withdrawal of the minutes (of the Policy) but the PDP just said the matter was over and no order was needed now.
Highly placed sources told the Excelsior that after failing to get the ‘Rehabilitation Policy for Militants’ approved through ‘Circulation of Agenda’ among the Cabinet Ministers, the Government brought the ‘Policy’ in the Cabinet for approval today.
The BJP Cabinet Ministers, who had met last night for about two hours to discuss agenda of the Cabinet and devise the party strategy, immediately objected to the ‘Rehabilitation Policy’ saying it was “just unacceptable to us” and should be deferred.
The PDP was of the view that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, a veteran BJP leader, has already given nod for drafting the `Rehabilitation Policy’ for the militants in Jammu and Kashmir, who want to shun the path of violence and surrender.
However, according to sources, the BJP Ministers asserted that payment of Rs 6 lakh to surrendered militants would spell doom for the BJP in Jammu region, where the party was already facing the public wrath on host of issues including `Tribal Policy’, CBI probe into Hiranagar rape-cum-murder of minor and sanction of Additional Deputy Commissioner posts in Nowshera and other places.
The BJP Ministers pointed out that when only Rs 5 lakh are paid to the civilians killed by terrorists and those dead in Pakistan shelling and firing, how Rs 6 lakh can be paid to a surrendered militant. Further, they also objected to the amount mentioned in the Policy for payment to the militants for handing over of arms, ammunition and explosive material at the time of surrender.
The BJP Ministers were also of the view that as per fixed employment policy of the Government under SRO 202, the youths were getting meager per month emoluments of Rs 5000 to Rs 7000 while the surrendered militant will get Rs 4000 per month interest apart from having Rs 6 lakh in the bank account, which was completely unjustified.
“We finally got the `Rehabilitation Policy’ deferred,” a BJP Minister said, adding they have now asked the Government not to move any major Policy or documents for approval of the Cabinet Ministers through ‘Circulation of Agenda’ and instead bring everything in the Cabinet for debate and discussion.
Sources said Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, Health and Medical Education Minister Bali Bhagat and Industry & Commerce Minister Chander Prakash Ganga along with others were in the forefront in opposing the ‘Rehabilitation Policy for Militants’ and getting it deferred though the PDP insisted that no less a person than Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has favoured the `Rehabilitation Policy’.
Sources said Bali Bhagat had submitted a strong three page note to the Cabinet openly opposing the `Rehabilitation Policy for Militants’ saying it would shatter the militancy and Pakistan firing and shelling victims and the unemployed youths. However, Bhagat couldn’t be contacted for the comments.
The ‘Rehabilitation Policy’ proposed that Rs 6 lakh given to the surrendered militant would be deposited in his bank account for a period of 10 years. During the deposit period, the militant would continue to get Rs 4000 monthly interest from the bank. After 10 years, the militant can get the FDR cashed if CID and other security agencies give the certificate of good conduct to him during the period.
The ‘Rehabilitation Policy’ accessed by the Excelsior proposed four-times to 10-times jump in the payment to the militants for handing over arms, ammunition and explosives as compared to the previous `Surrender Policy’ of 2004. Rs one lakh has been proposed for UMG/GMPG/Pika/RPG/Sniper Rifle as against previous Rs 25,000. For AK rifle, the militant will get Rs 50,000 as against Rs 15,000 per weapon.
“Apart from money, the surrendered militant can also avail various Government schemes meant for employment including PMKVY and Himayat.
The Rehabilitation Policy proposed that the surrendered militant involved in heinous crimes like murder, rape, abduction etc will be entitled to benefits only when legal action has been completed, court cases decided and person has been pronounced as innocent.
“Surrenders without incentives will also be considered in case of youth who went across for training but want to return and join the mainstream,” it said.
However, the surrender will not be accepted if the militant is recycled terrorist or who has already surrendered under any other earlier policy.
Previous Omar Abdullah Government had also come out with a ‘Rehabilitation Policy’ for the militants, which included the militants coming from Pakistan and PoK through four designated routes of Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch, Uri-Muzaffarabad in Kashmir, Wagah border in Amritsar and Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in New Delhi. However, no militant came from these routes but a number of militants returned through Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The practice of militants taking Nepal route for return was, however, stopped after the BJP Government took over at the Centre.
Meanwhile, sources said, the BJP Ministers also raked up the issue of minutes of ‘Tribal Policy’ of February 14 meeting and wanted the Government to issue an official order for withdrawal of the minutes.
The PDP Ministers reiterated their stand that the matter was closed as the order only contained minutes of the meeting and there was no official order. The Government, according to sources, refused to accept the BJP demand for issuance of the official order for withdrawal of the minutes of February 14 meeting pertaining to Tribal Policy, which had been released to the media by an Advocate, leading to strong resentment in some parts of Jammu region prompting the BJP Ministers to meet the Chief Minister and get the further process stalled.
The BJP Ministers were of the view that minutes of the meeting, which hadn’t been signed by their Minister of State for Tribal Affairs, Ajay Nanda, should be withdrawn in the form of an official order to set the things right but the PDP was of the view that the matter has ended.
The BJP Ministers now feel that had the issue of posting of Additional Deputy Commissioner in Koteranka brought before the Cabinet, the issue wouldn’t have snowballed into major controversy, resulting into agitation in Nowshera and elsewhere, leading to crisis like situation for the BJP, which represents both Nowshera and Kalakote Assembly segments.