Amnesty to stone throwers

By K.N. Pandita

During summer 2010, public disturbances happened in Kashmir Valley, especially in the city of Srinagar. A unique phenomenon of these disturbances was that the youth, generally unemployed and of teenage groups, resorted to stone throwing at the security forces who were trying to maintain law and order. The stone throwers were politically motivated. The incident and the skirmishes that ensued between the stone throwers and the security forces in narrow streets and lanes and other places, consumed no fewer than a hundred lives, mostly innocent and perhaps uninvolved. This is the reason why the governments everywhere are very sensitive to the issue of law and order in the state.   

In the process, police rounded up a large number of miscreants and registered First Information Repot (FIR) against them. That is the legal procedure of dealing with disrupters of law and order. Interrogation of the rounded up youth and investigation conducted by intelligence agencies made shocking revelations. It unearthed a very calculated conspiracy with ramifications that go beyond the LoC to foment trouble in the valley with the tacit purpose of dislodging the Omar government. Large funds were provided by the conspirators, local conduits were created and then sub-groups formed and the remuneration for each lone stone pelting youth, his group or company commander and then the zonal commanders all were fixed and the money flowed in freely. For example each stone pelting youth was paid rupees 100-150 per day of stone throwing spree, and his group commander having a strength of 8-10 youth under him got something around 8.000 rupees.  For the youth, this became a source of income and also a means of carrying forward anti-India campaign which has been the declared objective of all incidents of disruption of law and order.

Obviously, when the youth resort to unabated violence with the avowed purpose of conducting anti-state activities, security forces have to fulfill their constitutional obligation of maintaining law and order. Obviously in the process, fatalities can occur and thus we have the loss of precious lives. But the height of obduracy is that the separatists and secessionists who are the mastermind behind this perfidy and also the opposition that would not lose any opportunity of taking on the government on even a smaller issue, both are bringing the onus of fatalities to the doorsteps of the government. They have not a word about the schematic disruption of law and order in the state. Their spurious allegations give the impression as if this is alien government acting against its own people. Nothing can be more shocking.

Government’s announcement says that it has withdrawn FIRs against 284 cases, 50 more cases are under consideration and hopefully they will also be decided and FIRs against them will be withdrawn so that they are free of any charge of disrupting law and order in the State during the year 2010.

Obviously this act of the government has been given media hype because the government intends to project itself as humanitarian par excellence. In terms of humanism, the munificence shown by the government is a welcome step. After all the youth against whom FIRs have been withdrawn are our own youth and their return and restitution in the mainstream is a welcome step. Maybe the government will be thinking of providing them with jobs without imposing any conditions. That is all welcome. But the big questions remain to be answered. As we said, this all has been done under a very meticulously chalked out conspiracy in which many local persons or organizations are involved. The government has not so far revealed what facts and figures it has been able to lay its hands on during the course of investigation. The government has not either corroborated or repudiated the stories that made rounds in the print media about a network of conspiracies hatched at many places including beyond the border. It was in the public interest that the government should have revealed facts about this incident so that people would be able to decide for themselves who is responsible for the tragic death of a hundred people in the valley. The people have a right to information and they would earnestly seek full information on this count. Again it is good and humanistic on the part of the government to bring relief to the parents of the involved boys by withdrawing FIRs against them. But has the government tried to make the parents commit to the maintenance of peace in the state in future. Have they been asked to give an undertaking that they will not allow their wards to repeat the experience and in case they fail to contain their wards, will they report to the nearest police station. We hope the government will deal with the issue not from short-sighted humanism but from broader interests of the State and the civil society.

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