In a loud and clear endorsement of the Jammu and Kashmir police’s contention about the detained Kashmiri militant Liaquat Shah, J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday said that suicide bombers would never infiltrate India along with their families.

Mr. Abdullah said his government had formulated and introduced the policy for rehabilitation of surrendered militants in November 2010 for those who wanted to “return and live a normal life.”

“Several quarters had been levelling allegations of [enforced] disappearance of thousands of the Kashmiri youth. We knew many of these missing persons were in Pakistan and many of them wanted to return. We provided them the opportunity,” he said.

Addressing the Speaker, the Chief Minister said : “One of such persons [returning from Pakistan under the rehabilitation policy] was Liaquat Shah of Kupwara, who was arrested by Delhi Police. They claimed that he was entering the country with a plan to carry out suicide attacks. Mr. Speaker, I have yet to see a fidayeen who returned while holding his wife with one hand and the child with another. Had he been a fidayeen, he would have been instead holding a rifle in one hand and a grenade in the other.”

As differences had cropped up between the Delhi Police and the J&K police over Liaquat’s arrest, he requested the Union Home Minister to order a time-bound investigation into the whole episode by the National Investigation Agency [NIA], Mr. Abdullah said, adding he was relieved when the Centre agreed to this suggestion. The probe was necessary to protect the sanctity and credibility of the State government’s surrender-cum-rehabilitation policy as Liaquat’s arrest could have a remarkably negative bearing, he said.

Mr. Abdullah confirmed that the J&K Police had information about Liaquat’s return from PoK, and also about his desire to surrender.

Earlier on Monday, Mr. Abdullah’s confidante and former Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani moved a motion of debate over Liaquat’s arrest by the Delhi Police. However, speaker Mubarak Gul did not entertain it. He said the issue would figure automatically during the debate on the Home Department’s grants and the reply thereafter by the Chief Minister.

In his 80-minute-long speech, Mr. Abdullah declared Kashmir as a “political issue since 1971,” while reiterating his demand of revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. He claimed that many of the committees and the commissions set up by the Centre had recommended the withdrawal of the AFSPA and asserted that police would use appropriate force wherever there was violence and stone pelting.

Censuring the Hurriyat Conference over its “shutdown calendars,” Mr. Abdullah said the separatist leadership had no strength to fight mainstream politics politically.

Afzal execution ‘selective’

“They say that Afzal Guru had attacked the temple of democracy. Was not the attack on Rajiv Gandhi or the one on the Punjab Chief Minister [Beant Singh] an attack on democracy,” he asked, making a point that the Centre had been “selective” in executing Guru. He said that forest brigand Veerappan and others of his gang were also involved in innocent civilian killings. Yet, they were allowed to use every legal recourse in their defence.