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 Saturday to either grant them Indian citizenship or deport them.
The women sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as well as Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik to end their plight.
“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 grant us citizenship or deport us,” said Zeba, one of the protesters.
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 Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
“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 Safia said.
The Karavan-e-Aman (peace caravan) bus service runs between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in PoK. The bus service was started in 2005 on a fortnightly basis as a confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan.
The distressed women also appealed 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 LoC for arms training, returned along with their families through Nepal border till 2016, after which the policy was discontinued by the Centre.