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A gripping love story of a terrorist who renounced gun culture for his love Roses Bloom Over Guns

Updated: May 29, 2010 2:22 pm

The adage that love can make or mar you goes true for a Kashmiri terrorist who after over a decade stay in terror camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) has returned with a young Pakistani wife.

            Mohammad Ashraf, 25, a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist, expert in handlling sophisticated weapons and explosives, who dared to cross the Line of Control to enter into PoK from Kashmir way back in 1999 as a teenager, this time dodging his mentors in Pakistan crossed to Indian side to live peacefully with his 22- year-old bride, Asma whom he

married in March after an years of relationship.

            Asma is a daughter of one Abdul Subhan, a carpenter of Kota in PoK. After Asma’s family came to know about their love affair, the marriage was solemnised as per Muslim rituals.

            He says that his decision to return was bound by the fact that he was “fed up” of living the life of a terrorist. He however said that he has no memory of from which side of border he had crossed over to Pakistan in 1999 because it was dark and there were 25 of them along with two guides who had facilitated his incursion.

            Talking to media, Ashraf said that the couple had trekked rugged mountains and dense forests for almost 10 days dodging Pakistani security personnel to reach India, where they were intercepted by Indian Army, which handed them over to the Poonch police for further investigations.

            Indian Army sources revealed that troops of 40 Rashtriya Rifles observed movement across the fencing opposite their Nallah Ban Post in Sabjian in Poonch border district on May 9 afternoon and sounded an alert in the entire sector anticipating infiltration by the terrorists. However, as the troops spotted a girl along with a terrorist approaching the fencing, they didn’t open firing and allowed the couple to come close to the fencing.

            If crossing-over to Pakistan was a “miracle”, the journey back “was nothing less than suicidal”, risking certain death. Ashraf has disclosed that he escaped from terror camp of Kacharban in PoK about 12 days back and took Asma from her house. As Pakistan army and commanders of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen noticed Ashraf’s escape from the camp, they started chasing him.

            “We spent nearly 10 days in forests and mountains, there were Pakistani soldiers and Lashkar and Hizbul jihadis all around looking for us. We survived on dry fruits and some packed food”, said Ashraf with a smile of accomplishment on his face. This was the first public crossing by a Kashmiri youth from Pakistan into Jammu region after deserting the terror training camp, being run by Pakistan army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), after announcement of rehabilitation policy for such youths by the state government.

            When the young shy bride Asma dressed in salwar kameez was asked how she feels, he said, “I am relaxed and can now visualise my future.” She narrated that her family had no idea, whatsoever, that they were planning to flee. “I, on the pretext of purchasing vegetables, left my parental house just to join Ashraf in his attempt to return home. I

persuaded Ashraf to renounce his life of mujahideen and live a normal life with children and family.”

            It must be mentioned here that New Delhi in February had offered amnesty for Kashmiri youths, who had crossed over to PoK and who wished to return and surrender to lead a normal life. Significantly, the crossing-over has come at a time when Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has already said that his government’s draft policy for rehabilitation of Kashmiri youth, who had gone across the border for arms training and who now want to return home unarmed to lead a peaceful life, is at the final stage of finalisation which would be submitted to Delhi for taking a final decision in the matter.

            “I had come to read about the rehabilitation policy being offered by India so I decided to avail it and live peacefully”, Ashraf has told the police. Ashraf case is a clear pointer to a quiet undercurrent that is going on in terror camps in PoK. Young Kashmiri men who had fled to Pakistan in hundreds in 1990s to ‘liberate Kashmir’ in their ones and

twos, have now been returning home to India after spending the prime of their lives in “training camps” there. Those with money do so via Nepal boarding flights from Pakistan and others like Ashraf attempt to make hazardous journey through thick forests and mountains to cross over Line of Control. There is no official data on how many have returned so far. Estimates suggest that some 80 such people have arrived since 2008. Many have brought with them wives and children raised in Pakistan.

            According to Ashraf, there are an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Kashmiris, each living on Rs 2000- 2500 per month doled out by various tanzeems (terrorist groups) in “refugee camps” at Rawalkot, Bagh, Muzaffarabad, Kotli, and Mirpur, across the Line of Control.

“Almost all of them want to come back, but they are scared”, he said.

            The rehabilitation policy of Indian government has become a topic of debate among Kashmiri terrorists held up in Pakistan and many are chalking out their way out from terror camps though secretly. He said that Pakistan agencies have enhanced vigil on Kashmiri youth in the camps in the past few months since many have made failed attempts to escape.

            He had been given arms training in Kacharban training camp for several months. He had also been trained in driving for a month. Along with other terrorists, Ashraf also spent some months in madarsas where he was given lessons on jehad. During all this period, Ashraf said he was paid Rs 2600 per month by Pakistan army. After training, Pakistan army used the services of Ashraf for training others in different training camps in PoK.

            Meanwhile, Indian security agencies are in limbo over the issue of bringing Kashmiri youth back from Pakistan, which they say could be tricky as to how to keep a track on them when they join mainstream because there have been many cases when surrendered terrorists have rejoined terror ranks.

            Moreover, since many of them bring Pakistani women with children, the citizenship status is a big problem. Wives can be sent back, but what to do with their children?” a senior state police officer said. Interestingly, many of the Kashmiri separatist leaders have Pakistani wives. Sajad Gani Lone, a separatist-turned-mainstream leader, who contested last Parliament election, too has a Pakistani wife Asma. She is the daughter of Amanullah Khan, founder and chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF-A). Mohammad Yasin Malik, chairman, JKLF, too has married a Pakistani painter, Mushaal Mullick. Hurriyat moderate group chief Mirwaiz Omar Farooq also has wife of Pakistan origin.

By Prakriiti Gupta from Jammu

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