Jammu: As a Jammu and Kashmir minister says, children are children, be they of militants or of terror victims. That is why the state is reaching out to the young sons and daughters of slain insurgents with as many as 1,441 having received financial assistance in 2009-2010 alone.
"Children are children and the aged are infirm and helpless. Why should they suffer for no fault of theirs?" asked state Social Welfare Minister Sakina Itoo.
The rehabilitation council of the social welfare department, which offers help to militancy victims, is providing monthly financial assistance to the children of slain militants and their aged parents as part of a goodwill gesture to knit them into the mainstream, she said.
The rehabilitation council gives Rs.750 per month to such children.
"We are providing such assistance to the children of militancy victims; so why not include the children of killed militants also in the scheme," Itoo said.
While 1,441 children of militants have benefited, over 200 aged parents of slain terrorists were also covered under the scheme.
"We have spent around Rs.13 million on these schemes," the minister said.
"The widows of militants are not included in this scheme, though we are giving assistance to the widows of militancy victims. But I personally feel that the widows of militants should also be given some help for sustenance," Itoo said.
And she sees logic behind her suggestion.
"The majority of girls are forcibly married to militants. So why should they suffer for circumstances for which they were not responsible?"
Shakeela Begum, the widow of a militant, doesn`t have enough words to express her gratitude for the financial help she has received for her seven-year-old daughter Hamza Kauser.
"At least I can make her study now and be sure of her secure future," said Begum, who is in her late 20s.
According to rough estimates of the social welfare department, insurgency has left about 10,000 widows, including 2,500 wives of militants, and about 30,000 orphans in the state.
Itoo said the figure could be even more and she was in favour of conducting a fresh survey.
"I feel the number is much higher as we have not got any study or survey done. Now I am planning to get a survey done on this based on the FIRs (first information reports) lodged with the police.
"We want to reach out to the victims of violence and tyranny," Itoo said.
More than 40,000 people have died during the insurgency that started in 1989.
The government has spent Rs.37 million on monthly financial assistance to the widows of militancy victims in 2009-2010.
The minister said besides financial aid, women widowed due to terrorism "can come forward and get loans from the Women Development Corporation for various enterprises for which they can avail themselves of subsidies as well".
Apart from this, Rs.4.8 million has been spent on the Rs.750-800 monthly assistance to kids aged 6-18 years who were disabled in militancy-related violence.
"We would be helping the maximum possible victims of militancy so they do not feel isolated and left out," Itoo said.