JEHANGIR ALI | 23 JUNE, 2016
Mehbooba Offers Amnesty To Stone Pelters in Kashmir
NEW DELHI: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's Wednesday made a fresh offer of amnesty to stone-throwing youths in Kashmir Valley who have been booked by State Police for participating in anti-India and pro-freedom protests.
Speaking in the State Assembly, chief minister Mehbooba said she has directed the Home Department to prepare the list of "misguided youths" who have been found involved in various cases of protests since 2008 and were subsequently booked under criminal charges by J&K Police.
"My government will study these cases and we are contemplating an amnesty scheme for those youths who are willing to shun the path of violence and lead normal lives. Many of these youths who are languishing in jails will be set free before Eid," Mehbooba said.
The issue of stone-pelters has been a matter of grave concern and anguish in local population of Kashmir Valley where over 5000 such youths, according to separatist leaders, have been booked under various crimes, including the draconian Public Safety Act, to "prevent law and order problems".
In order to quell public anger, Omar Abdullah-led government had first announced amnesty for 1811 persons involved in 230 cases of stone pelting incidents in 2010 and 2011 on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr in August 2011.
But the number of such youths has grown rapidly over the years as public anger against the government often spills on the roads in the form of violent protests which are often curbed with the use of lethal measures by security forces.
According to official data, 799 persons were arrested in the state from January 2015 to January 2016 for participating in such protests, with maximum arrests made from the summer capital Srinagar while only one person was held in Jammu region.
The issue created ripples in the state assembly last week when a Peoples Democratic Party legislator, Advocate Aijaz Ahmad Mir, urged the government to offer amnesty for the youth who have been charged by police for stone pelting in the Valley.
Advocate Mir, who represents Wachi constituency in the state assembly, revealed that he was personally in touch with dozens of youths who had participated in anti-India and pro-freedom protests but were willing to shun the path of violence.
“I have personally taken to stone pelting during my university days. It happens in the spur of a moment. I admit to having committed mistake and there are many youths like me who are now ready to shun the path of violence. I appeal the government to grant amnesty to them, so that their future is saved and they live a normal life,” Mir said.