Srinagar: Indicating yet again who wears the pants in their coalition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has made clear that it will not allow the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to implement its new surrender policy which provides Rs 6 lakh in fixed deposit to surrendered militants and Rs 4,000 per month as interest on that deposit.
Arguing that such a policy would “incentivise the killers,” the BJP ministers made their position clear at the March 20 cabinet meeting. “The BJP ministers opposed it,” a government source said. “They said if the government started incentivising militants to drop guns, more youths would join militancy.”
“The stipends of unemployed youth will be lesser than those of the surrendered militant, if we go by the new surrender policy,” the government source quoted BJP ministers as saying during the cabinet meeting. “This is going to fan more militancy in the state,” they said. “An unemployed youth can join militancy for ten days and then surrender to get the benefits under the new surrender policy.”
As a result of the opposition from the BJP, the surrender policy was not approved by the cabinet, the source said. He added that the BJP ministers said the policy needed more deliberations as its provisions were not to their satisfaction.
In January this year, the Home Ministry in Delhi had advised the J&K government to formulate a new surrender and rehabilitation policy. The aim of thus was to provide an “alternative path of peace and prosperity to Kashmiri youth who have joined militancy”.
A new surrender policy was sought to be formed because of the unabated and increasing number of Kashmiri youth picking up guns since the killing of Burhan Wani in July 2016. According to official figures, more than 100 local militants are active in Kashmir and about the same number were killed in 2017.
Following the announcement that a new surrender policy would be formulated, the J&K home department in consultation with police and other security agencies drew up a policy that recommended higher remuneration for rehabilitation of militants who drop their weapons.
“According to the policy, the government will deposit six lakh rupees as fixed amount in banks for the militants who surrender,” officials said, quoting the new policy draft. “The surrendered militants will get 4000 rupees as monthly remuneration for ten years (the interest on the deposit). The fixed deposit will only be released once the militants get themselves cleared from the law enforcement agencies after a decade.”
Even though BJP ministers could not be contacted, state general secretary of the BJP, Ashok Kaul, said the new surrender policy was “incentivising the killers”.
“We do not support the new surrender policy,” Kaul said. “It will incentivise the killers. How can it happen that a shaheed (martyr) security personnel will get five lakh rupees but the one who kills them gets six lakh rupees? It is unjustified. It will encourage more people to join militancy.”
Asked what steps, then, the government can take to stop people from joining militancy, Kaul said the issue should be solved through talks. He did not explain “talks” with whom?
Kaul said that the BJP had opposed the 2004 surrender policy as well, which announced Rs 1.5 lakh for militants who surrender before the government.