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Omar amnesty for stone-throwers

india Updated: Aug 29, 2011 01:10 IST
HT Correspondent

In a goodwill gesture before Eid-ul-Fitr, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Sunday announced a one-time amnesty for around 1,200 youths arrested for stone throwing during the 2010 summer unrest in the Valley.

"Children make mistakes and as adults we have to forgive them," Abdullah told reporters here.

"It is our responsibility to tell them we are ready to forgive them, but that they should not repeat these mistakes."

Abdullah said the criminal record of the youths to be released would be cleared from the police files, giving them "another chance to build a better future".

"This is the last time we are granting amnesty. Youths who are involved in such acts hereafter will not be granted concessions like this in future," he said.

The amnesty announcement comes days ahead of the Eid deadline set by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the leader of a faction of the separatist conglomerate Hurriyat Conference, to release people arrested during the unrest.

Geelani threatened to launch an agitation after Eid otherwise. Eid is expected to be celebrated on August 31.

However, about 100 people, who are involved in major offences, will not be released.

Around 1,300 people were arrested in clashes with security forces last year that left around 120 civilians, mostly teenagers, dead.

The chief minister said the latest step was being taken as a reciprocating measure to restore peace in the region.

"There has been a lot of improvement in the situation and in that context we thought we should also do something for the people, particularly to those youths who were provoked and used, but were forgotten later," Abdullah said.