‘Stone pelters today, terrorists tomorrow’: Army’s grim message to J-K
In a chilling note of caution to parents, especially mothers of youth in Jammu and Kashmir, Indian army said that 83% of all youth who become militants start with throwing stones for Rs 500 and therefore needed to be stopped.
This statistic, presented in a joint press conference of security forces operating in the militancy hit state of Jammu and Kashmir also adds to the political debate calling for leniency to stone throwers in the valley.
15 Corps Commander, Lieutenant General Dhillon went on to provide even more chilling statistics for the parents of “the misguided youth” to consider; “Majority of all youth taking up guns are eliminated within the first year of operation,” he said. He encouraged the “boys who had gone astray” to lay down arms and return to mainstream since according to him, “the shelf-life of a terrorist who picks up a weapon was very short.”
“7 per cent of militants who pick up guns are eliminated in the very first week, 9 per cent are killed in the first month, 36 per cent in the first 6 months and 64 per cent in first one year.” Lieutenant General Dhillon said.
The number of stone-pelting incidents in the Kashmir valley has dipped under direct federal rule compared to the two previous political administrations — the Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party (PDP-BJP) coalition that was in power between 2015 and mid-2018, and the National Conference-Indian National Congress (NC-INC) alliance that stayed in office between 2009 and 2014. The state is currently under President’s rule.
A total of 349 stone-pelting cases were registered last year after the imposition of Governor’s rule while 355 incidents had been recorded till July 17 in 2019.
According to data reviewed by Hindustan Times, the total number of stone-pelting cases registered under the NC-INC regime between 2009 and 2014 was 2,690 with a spike in 2010, when protests took place against alleged killings by the army in the Macchil sector.
The PDP-BJP government, headed initially by Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and then, after his death, by his daughter Mehbooba Mufti, recorded a high of 4,522 cases against stone-pelters with a huge spike of 2,897 cases in 2016 amid widespread protests over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces and rising disgruntlement against the PDP for joining hands with the BJP.
Data over a decade also suggests that Srinagar, the base of the pro-Pakistan umbrella separatist group Hurriyat Conference, witnesses the most number of instances of stone-pelting. Sopore, a hotbed of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Kashmir and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat activity, Baramulla and Pulwama aren’t far behind.
According to counter-terrorism operatives, there are a total of 300 terrorists in the valley currently, of which 115 are of Pakistani or Afghan nationality. The focus of security agencies is to not allow these numbers to go up by stopping replenishment from across the border and putting an end to the recruitment of local young men in South Kashmir.