Grant citizenship or deport, demand Pakistani wives of former Kashmiri militants

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SRINAGAR, JULY 12 (PTK): Pakistani wives of former Kashmiri militants, who returned from across the Line of Control (LOC) under a rehabilitation scheme for surrendered militants, appealed the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday to either grant them Indian citizenship or deport them.

“We are a total of 350 women…we should be made citizens here as is the case with the women who marry men in any country. We appeal the government of India and the state government to either grant us passport or travel documents or deport us,” one of the women, Taiba, a resident of Abottabad, told reporters here.

She added “We all regret that decision to come to India now my husband and I were arrested when we entered Kashmir in 2012. I spent three months behind bars for entering India without valid documents, and my husband more than six months.”

She said the authorities seized all her documents, leaving her living in India effectively a stateless citizen.

“I should have been given Indian citizenship by virtue of being the wife of an Indian, but I have nothing and I want to return to Pakistan. We want the government to facilitate our return to our home country,” she added.

She said that the promises made by the state government with them have not been fulfilled. “We ask the state government to provide us travel documents and citizenship rights so that we are able to meet our families and relatives in Pakistan.”

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Another woman said “It is our right to have the citizenship of the state. We should be made citizens here as is the case with women who marry men in any country. We appeal the Government of India and the state government to either grants us citizenship or deports us”.

These women arrived in Kashmir during the past decade along with their husbands. They alleged that the state government was denying them travel documents to visit their families in Pakistan and Pakistan administrated Kashmir (PaK).

“Ours is a humanitarian issue. We were promised many things, but nothing was fulfilled. We have no identity here. Many of us are going through depression. There should be initiatives for us like the Karavan-e-Aman (Srinagar-Muzaffarabad) bus service so that we can visit our families,” another woman said.

The Karavan-e-Aman (peace caravan) bus service runs between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in PoK. The bus service was started in 2005 on fortnightly basis as a confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan.

The distressed women also appealed to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and human rights organisations to take note of their ordeal.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah had in 2010 announced a rehabilitation policy for former Kashmiri militants, who had crossed over to Pakistan from 1989 to 2009.

Hundreds of Kashmiris, who had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) for arms training, returned along with their families through Nepal border till 2016, after which the policy was discontinued by the Centre.

According to estimates, nearly 400 families returned to India from various parts of Pakistan between 2012 and 2015, with the government promising them education, employment and financial assistance. (PTK)

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