Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Wednesday ordered withdrawal of cases against more than 4,000 youth, most of them booked in connection with incidents of stone-throwing and protests in Kashmir until 2014.
These cases were approved for withdrawal following the recommendation of a high-level committee, formed by the state government last year and headed by J&K Director General of Police S P Vaid.
“These cases were scrutinised and recommended for withdrawal by a committee that we had set up to look into this issue,’’ Mehbooba Mufti told The Indian Express. “These cases are only up to 2014. We have issued a directive to look at cases filed in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and asked this committee to file a report within ten days. This is an ongoing process that we have initiated to help young people rebuild their lives.”
She said cases against “several thousand more youngsters would be withdrawn once the cases registered in the last three years are examined”.
The Chief Minister “approved the withdrawal of cases against 4,327 youth involved in 744 cases of law and order nature” after the committee submitted its report Wednesday.
DGP Vaid said the government had earlier formed a committee to scrutinise cases from 2008, 2009 and 2010. “This committee was set up a year ago and we were asked to review cases filed until 2014,’’ he said. “We submitted our report to the government where we recommended withdrawal of cases against first-timers, minors and ladies. We haven’t recommended withdrawal of cases against repeat offenders or those involved in heinous crimes.”
According to Vaid, the state government has already issued a fresh order to continue this review exercise and examine cases registered in 2015, 2016 and 2017. “We will use the same yardstick while recommending withdrawal of cases for these (three) years,’’ he said.
Soon after taking charge as Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti had ordered a review of cases registered against youth for alleged stone-throwing and protests. The government had subsequently withdrawn 104 cases involving 634 youth.
Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister and leader of the Opposition National Conference, said the withdrawal of cases is “a good step but it is being done only to bolster the image of the interlocutor”.
“I wish it was done by the state government themselves. This is an initiative taken by the Home Minister and the interlocutor, and the state government is just an implementing authority,’’ Abdullah said. “We are asking what next. This is a low-hanging fruit. How do you proceed after this? Withdrawing cases after a few years against some youngsters is good but what next, particularly at a time when the youth are increasingly joining militancy,” he said.
He said there was an immediate need for initiation of a political dialogue. “It (withdrawal of cases) is a start and not an end in itself and there is an immediate need for the state government, the Centre and the interlocutor to tell us what are they going to do next. There is no clarity at all. There is no clarity in what the interlocutor is doing,” he said.