Rank-and-file militants seen as most attracted to the government's plan, though leaders remain elusive.
In the four months since the government of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) unveiled an amnesty plan for jihadi extremists, more than 100 Kashmiri youth have surrendered along with their weapons, according to state Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Raman Bhalla.
"In one case we had a militant who returned after 20 years. It is clear the people want change," he told Khabar South Asia.
The programme, launched in February, seeks to persuade thousands of separatists, many of whom who crossed over to Pakistan in the 1990s, to return and begin civilian life.
"Anybody who is willing to give up guns and return is welcome," said India's Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, as he announced the offer.
The administration of J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah decided to go ahead with the amnesty after an earlier move, described as a "confidence-building measure" aimed at winning hearts and minds among disgruntled Kashmiri youth, proved fruitful.
In October, coinciding with Eid celebrations, Abdullah's government extended an olive branch to more than 1,500 young Kashmiris who had been indicted for throwing stones at Indian security personnel during anti-government protests in 2010.
"The success with the 'stone throwers' gave us the inspiration to work in union with the federal government to expand it to all militants," Nasir Ahmed Wani, the J&K minister for Home, Housing and Urban Development, told Khabar.
Terrorism stigma makes some reluctant to return
Despite such successes, however, officials say the surrender rate has been lower than expected. According to a representative of the local attorney's guild, some are reluctant to lay down their arms because they do not want to feel they are terrorists.
Militants and their sympathisers feel that "the boys who return to surrender should be viewed not as terrorists but as freedom fighters. They should be treated with more respect by the government", J&K Bar Association spokesperson Pervez Bhatt told Khabar.
One notable setback occurred when three men wanted in connection with the Delhi High Court bombing of September 2011, in which sixteen people were killed, offered to surrender but then went back on their word.
Aamir Kamal (alias Akram), Junaid Akram Malik (alias Umair) and Shakir Hussain (alias Chotta Hafiz) were believed to be hiding out in the northern part of the state, with each under a Rs 1m bounty ($18,455) placed by the National Investigation Agency, a federal anti-terrorist force. All three are suspected of belonging to the home-grown Kashmiri militancy group Hizbul Mujahideen.
Though exact reason for their change of heart is not known, officials say they may have gotten cold feet due to a recording that found its way to the press.
According to Garib Dass, deputy inspector-general for the Ramban-Doda-Kishtwar range, one of the wanted men had told the police-appointed negotiator that he would surrender the next day. "This was apparently taped and the tape was leaked to the local media. We had no role in this," Dass told Khabar.
The authorities acknowledge that they are not satisfied with the relatively slow response to the amnesty.
"We are reviewing the plan with the J&K government and are addressing some of the problems, which are perceived by officials in both New Delhi and Srinagar," Bhalla, the state official, said.
Rank and file feels the brunt
According to some analysts, it is the rank-and-file militants who are most attracted to the amnesty offer, while the leaders of extremist organisations remain at large.
"The ones who are surrendering are the foot soldiers," Khursheed Wani, an experienced journalist who has been covering militancy for over two decades, told Khabar. "Even that is significant because these are the men who actually carry out the operations."
Minister Wani, meanwhile, voiced confidence that the amnesty will continue to gain momentum. "The fact that more than 100 militants have returned and have slipped into the mainstream is proof enough that there exists a yearning for peace. We are confident that the amnesty scheme will find more acceptance with the passage of time. After all, it’s only four months old."