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Latest update : 2013-10-25

India-Pakistan: meeting former Mujahideen in Kashmir

Both India and Pakistan have made claims to Kashmir since their independence. The two nuclear-armed adversaries each occupy part of the former Himalayan kingdom and three wars have failed to settle their claims. Skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani soldiers on the Kashmiri border are frequent. Our reporters visited the region and met former Mujahideen who have laid down their weapons.

Ever since their inception as nation states in 1947, India and Pakistan have been locked in a complex battle for land. At the heart of this conflict is Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority state currently part of India, except for a small portion administered by Pakistan.

In the 1990s, tens of thousands of young Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir decided to take up arms against Indian rule. They crossed the border illegally into Pakistan to receive training in militant camps. Many returned - as Mujahideen, or holy warriors - to fight the Indian troops. The ensuing guerrilla war lasted a decade and those Mujahideen who survived stayed on in Pakistan.

Now, after nearly two decades, some of these men are beginning to make their way back to India under a rehabilitation policy that offers them a chance to return to the country they fought against. Nearly 400 men have taken up the offer so far, while another 1,000 have applied.

But those who have returned seem far from happy, saying they feel like prisoners in their own homes. Our reporters travelled to both sides of Kashmir, in India and Pakistan, to meet these "retired" Mujahideen and hear their stories.

By Constantin SIMON , Ludovic GAILLARD , Mandakini GAHLOT , Taha SIDDIQUI

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