The peace initiative was stalled by the alliance government in June 2016 following apprehensions about the possible flare-up
By directing Mehbooba Mufti-led alliance government in Jammu and Kashmir to withdraw cases against first time offenders involved in incidents of stone pelting the central government has triggered a fresh debate whether stone pelters can really become ambassadors of peace and a conducive atmosphere of peace can be built to carry forward the sustained dialogue process towards addressing the long pending grievances of people of all three regions of the state.
The announcement was made on the basis of a set of recommendations made by the centre’s representative Dineshwar Sharma in his preliminary report to the Union Home Ministry.
On the surface it looks like another cosmetic effort as large sections of radicalised youth have been exploiting social networking platforms
The timing of the announcement is also very significant as he is preparing to visit the state beginning November 24 to carry forward the second round of the sustained dialogue.
Sharma is scheduled to visit the South Kashmir districts of Kashmir valley, which remained epicentre of Kashmir unrest in the aftermath of the killing of poster boy of Hizbul Mujahideen Burhan Wani in July 2016.
A cosmetic effort ?
On the surface it looks like another cosmetic effort as large sections of radicalised youth have been exploiting social networking platforms and continue to spit venom against the Indian nation.
These are the same youth who occupy streets and confront security forces while displaying ISIS flags, chant slogans of Azadi during funeral processions of local militant commanders and plant kisses on their mastheads before bidding final goodbyes.
In the past too the ruling dispensation has tried this formula but none succeeded.
At the peak of 2010 summer unrest when former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was at the receiving end he too had announced amnesty scheme for stone pelters and had taken commitments from their parents that their children won’t participate in sporadic incidents of street violence leading to more trouble on the streets.
Records revealed the incidents of stone pelting dropped marginally for some time but this stone pelting brigade never vanished from the streets of Kashmir valley. Every time they were suppressed by the government of the day they bounced back with more lethality and triggered unrest by sustaining themselves for a longer duration.
Even political parties in Kashmir valley traded barbs against each other for sponsoring this large army of stone pelters for their vested interests.
WHO IS SPONSORING STONE PELTERS IN KASHMIR VALLEY ? POLITICAL PARTIES CONTINUE TO FIGHT
Even political parties in Kashmir valley traded barbs against each other for sponsoring this large army of stone pelters for their vested interests. In April 2017 Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had claimed that the “failure” of the previous Omar Abdullah government to deal with the issue of stone-pelting had led to the unrest last year and the situation in the Valley at present.
She targeted Omar after his father and former Union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah had alleged that the Mufti government was “financing stone-pelting”.
Holding Abdullah family responsible for creating the mess Mehbooba had charged ” no measures were taken with regard to the youths, who took to the streets to hurl stones (in 2010). What steps were taken at that time to check stone-pelting? No treatment was done.”
“It is because of the failure to take steps to treat the ailment. It churned lava (in youths), which exploded suddenly last year and till now, we have not been able to stop this,” Mehbooba had stated.
At present National Investigating Agency (NIA) is probing cases of hawala transactions to fuel unrest in Kashmir valley. After the crackdown was announced by the Narendra Modi led union government the separatists are on the back foot and losing face in the eyes of their followers too. These separatists have been exposed by the NIA by tracking down some of the murky deals while detailed probe in on, to unmask the other faces.
However, political observers on the ground claim by withdrawing cases against first time stone pelters in Kashmir valley both the centre and the state government in Jammu and Kashmir have been trying to create a conducive atmosphere to motivate left out stakeholders to come on the dialogue table for a sustained dialogue process.
The peace initiative was stalled by the alliance government in June 2016 following apprehensions about the possible flare-up.
After taking charge in March 2016 Mehbooba Mufti had initiated the move to withdraw cases against the stone pelters. She had even constituted a three-member Committee vide order No: 355-Home of 2016 dated: 26-06-2016 to review the cases that were registered against the stone pelters between 2008 and 2009 in the first phase and it recommended that 104 cases registered during this period involving 634 persons be withdrawn.
While this process was going on street violence erupted across Kashmir valley after the killing of Burhan Wani. 76 civilians and 2 security personnel lost their lives in the prolonged violence.
Omar Abdullah too had announced general amnesty scheme for youths involved in over 1,200 cases of stone-pelting in the Valley
A total number of 2655 FIR’s were registered against those involved in unlawful activities.
8587 accused were arrested, out of whom 8473 were released till January 22, 2017.
A total number of 53 government properties including Panchayat Ghar, police pickets, schools, private property were damaged and 80 structures were set ablaze.
Omar Abdullah had announced amnesty for stone pelters in 2011 but in vain ?
In August 2011 former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah too had announced general amnesty scheme for youths involved in over 1,200 cases of stone-pelting in the Valley during 2010 summer unrest.
Omar had claimed it was an Eidi (Eid gift) from his government to the youths, who were led astray and provoked into protests during last year’s unrest.
“We have decided to give the youths a second chance. Cases against all the youths arrested on charges of stone-pelting, but not involved in arson, registered during last year’s disturbance will be withdrawn,” Omar had stated while making the announcement.
He said the criminal record of the youths will be cleared and they will get another chance to build a better future.
“(However,) the cut-off date for amnesty is today…. we cannot do it again and again. Anyone arrested till today on stone-pelting charges can avail this amnesty,” Omar said.
“We are ready to forgive… we have learnt our lessons and now the youths also have to learn their lessons. Those who incited them last year are willing to agitate for the release of their colleagues but have forgotten the stone-pelters,” Omar had said.
A total number of 1,300 cases were registered but less than 100 of these were related to incidents of arson.
76 government buildings were set afire, while 38 others were damaged.
Sixteen private buildings were also set ablaze, while 18 others were damaged.
62 vehicles, including 37 owned by the government, were burnt down while 160 other vehicles were damaged during protests.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.