Amnesty to first time Stone Pelters draws flak

The state government’s decision to grant amnesty to over 9,700 stone throwers in the Kashmir valley has come under sharp criticism after a stone-throwing mob “helped” a militant escape from the encounter site in Palhalan village of Baramulla district today.
According to reports, there was a brief exchange of gunfire between security personnel and a militant in Palhalan village. Youth engaged the security forces in stone-throwing, giving the militant scope to escape.
Last month, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had announced that her government had approved amnesty to 9,730 stone throwers, including over 4,000 first-time offenders, who were involved in stone-throwing incidents between 2008 and 2017.
“The overall situation, especially in the wake of today’s incident of stone-throwing in Baramulla on the forces during an anti-militancy operation, is highly condemnable and shows the failure of the policy of the state and Central governments to deal with the situation,” said Ravinder Sharma, chief spokesperson, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee. “The situation has reached to this level that militants are able to garner local support to this extent. Even after the government’s confidence-building measures and withdrawal of cases against more than 9,700 stone throwers, the state government and the Centre have to answer their total failure on this front,” Sharma said. A BJP legislator, on condition of anonymity, described the situation “alarming”, saying that the decision will have a direct bearing on the ensuing summer. “It will not be a sweet summer this year. I doubt whether the BJP was taken on board while taking a decision on granting amnesty to stone throwers. The decision has definitely emboldened them (stone throwers) that their cases would be withdrawn even if they don’t refrain from violence and stone-throwing,” he said. Evading direct queries on the issue, state BJP president Sat Sharma said: “Our party had made its stand clear that any person booked under stone-throwing should be left only after proper verification of his full credentials by a high-level panel. It was up to the government to decide on the issue.”