Acknowledging that incidents of stone-pelting and terror-funding in the Valley is on the rise again, Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir on Wednesday said that the Centre’s approach on Kashmir will “not change”, and that the Army, central armed forces and the state police will continue operations to “flush out militants”.
“In the last few weeks, the incidents of stone-pelting have risen. It may be because of Pakistan. Army, CRPF and the police have been effectively dealing with the situation, and they will continue with their operations in the Valley,” Ahir told The Indian Express.
On amnesty to first-time stone-pelters, Ahir said, “It was a good initiative. So far, it has not come to light in our inquiry that those released on amnesty were involved in recent stone-pelting incidents (including Monday’s incident, in which a 22-year-old tourist from Chennai was killed). Strict action will be taken against those involved.”
He said, “The death of a tourist is very unfortunate. For Kashmir, tourism is important and a lot of people’s survival depends on it.”
In November last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had advised the Jammu and Kashmir government to withdraw cases against 740 first-time stone-pelters. Of these 740 people, 40 were lodged in prison when the amnesty was announced — 20 of them were reportedly below 18 years.
More than 11,000 FIRs have been registered against stone-pelters in the Valley since July 2016, when the recent round of unrest began in the Valley following the death of top Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in an encounter. Of these, over 4,400 cases were registered against youths who were first-time offenders.
Ahir, who is in-charge of the J&K division in MHA, also acknowledged that despite the crackdown last year on funding for separatists, the flow of money is back. “It was an effort by the government to curb funding of militants in the Valley. However, Pakistan is using all tactics to pump money and militants into the Valley and has been successful on some occasions. We will continue with our efforts to choke funding. It’s an ongoing process, and all the agencies are working towards it.”
On demands by former chief minister Omar Abdullah to impose Governor’s rule in the state, Ahir said, “The chief minister (Mehbooba Mufti) is handling the situation and at times she has to take tough decisions. There is no need for Governor’s rule, and political parties in the Valley should play the role of effective opposition. He (Omar) should appeal to the youth and discourage them from throwing stones.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines