The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in Parliament on Tuesday that there was a decrease in incidents of stone-pelting and law and order issues in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) after August 5, following the Centre’s decision to scrap special status under Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories. However, the data provided by the government shows a marginal increase in such incidents.
Replying to a written question by Rajasthan BJP MP Kanak Mal Katara, Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy told the Lok Sabha: “Since August 5, 2019 to November 15, 2019, 765 people have been arrested in 190 cases registered relating to stone-pelting/ law and order. From January 1, 2019 to August 4, 2019, 361 such cases were registered.”
These arrests don’t include those held in preventive detention under CrPC and the Public Safety Act (PSA) after August 5.
Replying to Katara’s question on whether scrapping of J&K’s special status had led to a decrease in stone-pelting incidents, Reddy said: “Yes, sir.” However, analysis of the data shows that from January to August 4, there were about 50 incidents of stone-pelting or law and order issues on an average every month. This increased to an average of about 55 such incidents every month after August 5.
Earlier, the government had denied any significant protests or disruption of public order in the aftermath of its decision on Article 370.
Reddy said the government had initiated a multi-pronged policy to check stone-pelting. He said the government had “succeeded in curbing it to the extent that a large number of troublemakers, instigators, mob mobilisers have been identified and various preventive measures have been taken against them, which include detention under PSA and preventive arrests”.
He said “investigation has revealed that various separatist organisations and activists which are part of the Hurriyat have been behind the incidents of stone-pelting in Kashmir Valley. NIA has chargesheeted 18 persons in the terror funding cases so far.”
According to sources in J&K, there were more than 400 detentions under PSA, while political leaders and party workers remained under house arrest or detention. These include former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
The government also informed Lok Sabha on Tuesday that there were 950 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control between August and October this year.
Replying to another question by TMC MP Parasun Banerjee on the use of pellet guns to quell protests in the Valley, Reddy said: “Pellet guns have been used as a matter of abundant caution, only to deal with severe law and order problem, to avoid civilian casualties.”
He, however, skirted other questions asked by Banerjee on “the details of inputs considered before the decision to revoke Article 370 was taken”. Reddy only said: “In order to apply all provisions of the Constitution of India, as amended from time to time, without any modifications or exceptions to the State of Jammu and Kashmir thereby removing Article 35 A and all other constitutional ambiguities, the President, on the recommendation of the Parliament, issued a declaration under Article 370 (3).”
On a question of attendance in schools in Kashmir after the Centre’s decision, Reddy said: “Initially, the attendance of students was thin… (but it) gradually picked up… at present, the attendance of students stands at 99.7% during the ongoing examinations.”