Aiming to bounce back from the rout faced in the parliament polls, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah on Thursday advocated a general amnesty for all youth booked for stone-throwing and participating in street protests.
“Youth are our backbone. They are future of Kashmir. I advocate some sort of general amnesty for the youth,” said NC patron Abdullah, who met a delegation of stone-throwers facing police cases in the valley at the party headquarters Nawa-e-Subah.
The protesters, who are known for throwing stones at security forces in anti-India protests, met Abdullah and sought his intervention to stop police’s ‘witch-hunt’ against them.
“They said their life has become hell. I want them to live a happy life,” said Abdullah.
Official figures suggest that around 600 youth were rounded up in the run up to the polls. More than 1,300 youth in the valley face charges of rioting and stone pelting since 2010.
However, separatists accuse the police of rounding up 3,000 youth across the valley and booking them in false charges.
Commenting on the past speeches of chief minister Omar Abdullah and own statements threatening that ‘Kashmir will secede if Article 370 goes’, Abdullah said, “I have never said Kashmir will go if Article 370 is revoked. Kashmir is part of India. Don’t put words in my mouth.”
Abdullah, grappling with the defeat where the oldest regional party lost all the six parliament seats to the BJP and Peoples Democratic Party, also addressed a closed-door meeting of the party leaders.
Abdullah has already chaired a host of party meetings since the defeat to chalk out a plan to bounce back and win in the upcoming assembly polls.
The party, representing 28 assembly segments right now, had lost lead in 22 such segments, standing No 4 party in the state after BJP, PDP and the Congress.
“Thanks we lost the polls. We are hopeful now to find the lost way,” Abdullah told the party leaders.