Kashmir stone-pelting incidents drop by over 60% in 2017; police chief credits NIA raids, counselling of youth

Stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir have come down by over 60 percent this year compared to 2016, a change that the Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police SP Vaid attributed to a range of factors, from a decrease in militancy to awareness programmes for the Valley youth.

An RTI response from the Ministry of Home Affairs said that 2,808 stone-pelting incidents were recorded in 2016, whereas only 1,109 have taken place until October 2017.

In November, Vaid had said that the decrease in such incidents in the state was "more than 90 percent." Although the numbers do not tally with Vaid's assessment, the dip is still significant considering 2016 had over 250 percent more stone-pelting incidents than the current year.

Speaking to Firstpost, Vaid said that one particular reason cannot be picked for the drastic improvement in the numbers. He said although factors such as demonetisation and arrest of separatist leaders in Kashmir by the National Investigation Agency helped the cause, the list did not stop there.

"We eliminated many militants this year, plus actions against stone-pelters have also resulted in the decline," Vaid said. He added that after the youth in the Valley were counselled, incidents of incitement through social media have also been curbed to a large extent.

Vaid said the discourse on social media changed, and "the campaign by Pakistan to incite youth has been curbed".

 Kashmir stone-pelting incidents drop by over 60% in 2017; police chief credits NIA raids, counselling of youth

Stone-pelters clash with police during disturbances in Srinagar in May 2017. Reuters

A report of Jammu and Kashmir’s department of home affairs on the unrest in the region after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzafar Wani in 2016 had revealed that before the violent protests, "a campaign was launched through various platforms including social media sites to instigate violence and disturb the peace in the state." It was after Wani's death in 2016 that stone-pelting incidents peaked in the region.

Unlike last year, incidents of stone-pelting in 2017 have been largely restricted to the encounters between the forces and the militants, as local youth tried to rescue militants from security cordons.

Deputy Inspector General of Police (North Kashmir range) Vidhi Kumar Birdi, said, "Our preventive and legal action against stone-pelters helped in the improvement of the situation." He, too, said that NIA raids helped bring the numbers down by a large margin. Birdi added that a sudden lack of cash flow brought about by demonetisation also made it difficult to mobilise stone-pelters in the Valley.

In 2016, police had registered around 2,655 FIRs against youths and 8,587 people were arrested in relation to incidents of stone-pelting. Police had arrested 519 juveniles, and 3,900 stone-pelters in the age group of 18-30 years.

"A number of steps including the extra deployment of security forces, the imposition of curfew and restrictions, temporary suspension of internet services, preventive detentions, deployment of additional troops on the national highway for the restoration of traffic were taken to improve the security situation," the state home department report added.

Updated Date: Dec 05, 2017 14:25:55 IST