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Spouses of ex-militants in J&K demand rehabilitation package

"We lack resources to survive.But most important, we lack identity," says Zeba, who is originally from Islamabad in Pakistan.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Mar 27, 2013, 02.18 AM IST
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SRINAGAR: Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has no dearth of troubles. He has to manage a restive state, a job that often entails walking a tightrope between expectations of a suspicious population and a tone-deaf central government. All this, while facing down a hostile opposition, separatists and militants.

On Tuesday, Abdullah and his government found trouble from a new and unlikely quarter - Pakistani spouses of former Kashmiri militants, most of whom decided to follow their husbands across the line of control to pursue their luck as part of an amnesty scheme by the J&K government.

Feeling cheated by Srinagar as well as New Delhi, scores of such women (officially called returnees) took to the streets in Srinagar with their husbands and children in tow to protest the "trap" in which they have landed after availing the 'surrender and rehabilitation package' of the J&K state government.

"We lack resources to survive. But most important, we lack identity," says Zeba, who is originally from Islamabad where she was born into a family of doctors in Pakistan. Zeba was working as a school teacher when she married Suhail and together with their two children say they are living a "very harsh life" for the last nine months.

"We are neither Pakistanis nor Kashmiris... could somebody have the guts to tell us who we are?" Zeba asks.

That question is only the latest in a barrage of laments that have come to haunt the young chief minister.

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