The Jammu & Kashmir police had a few months ago in a rear move started invoking teaching of Islam against stone-pelting pastime by its “ill-advised” youth
Srinagar: About 400 Kashmir youth, half of them females, have been invited for a career counseling fête being conducted by the police in a degree college in Shopian town, 52-km south of here, on Thursday.
The uniqueness of the gathering and which, in fact, has made it ‘talk of the town’ is that many of the invitees are those young boys and teenagers from south Kashmir who have been involved in stone-pelting incidents that stunned the Valley in the aftermath of the killing of popular Hizb-ul-Mujahedin commander Burhan Wani in July previous year. The 4 districts of south Kashmir-Kulgam, Anantnag, Shopian and Pulwama were worst hit in the chaos in which over 80 people died, mainly security forces’ firings.
“We are guessing a good number of such youth, nearly 250, who have agreed to shun stone-pelting and return back in normal life,” stated Jammu and Kashmir’s Director General of Police, Shesh Paul Vaid. He added, “We want these children to build their career. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that he wants to see pens and laptops in the hands of Kashmiri youth and not stones and the J&K police are in a delicate way contributing towards the effort. We don’t want these young boys to die or get involved in cases. People play politics and spoil their career”.
Among the experts who have been invited by the police to hold counseling settings with the students and youth include Prime Minister Development Fellows and career and educational consultants Sadashiv Nayanpally and Aniket Choudhary and Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) officers Shoaib Noor and Dr. Salma Nabi. SSP Shopian Tahir Saleem stated, “We’re going to help these children to know and understand themselves and the world of work in order to make the career, educational, and life decisions.”
The Jammu & Kashmir police had a few months ago in a rear move started invoking teaching of Islam against stone-pelting pastime by its “ill-advised” youth. It did create an impact on sections of the local population but the killing of Wani weakened the campaign and, in fact, the Valley witnessed a worse situation in decades along its streets. The chaos continued for more than 4 months and the stone-pelting is still practiced by the Valley youth mainly on Fridays.
As getting tough with these youth failed to act as a preventive nor could killing and damage of hundreds of them in tit-for-tat actions dissuade others from taking to the streets routinely to confront the security forces, the police authorities decided to address the issue differently. “We in an effort to control stone-pelting pastime started conducting counseling sessions with them to guide them on ways to lead better lives and it is working,” stated Mr. Vaid.
Apart from conducting counseling sessions, the police have also helped some of the habitual stone-pelters in settling in their lives by providing them financial help. Though the police do not admit it for clear reasons, some of the beneficiaries of this kindness have been able to start small businesses.
Others have been encouraged to join the police force itself. Apart from holding open counseling session, the modus operandi adopted in that the youth found involved in stone-pelting through CCTV footage or intelligence inputs are picked up and held at police stations or other detention centers were police officers and ‘experts’ within the organization or those hired from outside hold counseling sessions with them. Sometimes, their parents are also called and sent back after requesting, and sometimes even warning, them to keep their children away from the movement “which is going to spoil their lives”.
Tanveer Ahmed (name changed) is a Srinagar youth who was successfully convinced to give up the stone-pelting pastime and is now running a mobile repairing outlet stated, “I was two times arrested by the police. I initially denied the charge but they had a video with them showing me leading a group of youth into stone-pelting at Saraf Kadal (a central Srinagar locality)”. Ahmed alleged he was viciously beaten up by 2 cops inside a police station.
On the another occasion, his father was also called to the police station and counseled that if Ahmed again indulged in stone-pelting he would be booked under the State’s stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) and sent to a jail outside the Valley. The poor man broke down in the police station and it was when Ahmed decided to call it a day.