But the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the move amounted to a reward for anti-national forces.
"It was needed. That's why we had been asking for it," Abdullah said in his immediate reaction to Home Minister P. Chidambaram's announcement in New Delhi Thursday that the union government had accepted the idea of granting amnesty to Kashmiri militants in Pakistan administered Kashmir who want to return without weapons and join the mainstream.
Chidambaram had spoken to Abdullah in the morning, but the latter received news of the announcement while he was in a district development board meeting at Kathua, 85 km from Jammu.
Abdullah told his colleagues and the members of the district board that it was "good news" for the state, a source present at the meeting quoted him as saying.
However, the sentiment in Jammu-centric parties was that of anger and frustration.
"It's a surrender to the militants. This would open the flood gates for terrorists," said Ashok Khajuria, a Bharatiya Janata Party legislator.
"This is a reward for anti-national forces and a snub to nationalist forces," Khjauria said.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) president Rama Kant Dubey said: "He (Chidambaram) is looking after the interests of terrorists, is he the home minister of India?" He alleged that from day one the Abdullah government had been predisposed to militants.
"The idea of granting amnesty to Kashmiri youth in PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) has been accepted. The idea must be translated into action," Chidambaram told reporters in New Delhi. He said the process of how to do it needed wider consultation. The home minister said the government will hold consultation with various political parties about the return of the militants.
Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday welcomed the union government's willingness to grant amnesty to Kashmiri militants who want to return from Pakistan, saying it was a big gift for their families.
First Published: Thursday, February 11, 2010, 15:36