Sunday, August 28, 2011

Amnesty for Stone Pelters

Policy for ‘stone pelters’ arrested in 2010 summer

In a significant development the state government today announced withdrawal of cases against around 1200 youths charged with stone pelting last summer.

However, the not-to-be-repeated ‘general amnesty’, evades nearly 100 others charged with arson and damage to property and all those who are still absconding.

“We have decided to withdraw charges against all youths who were arrested on charges of stone pelting last year except the ones involved in arson or damage to property. The amnesty, however, does not include those still in hiding,” chief minister, Omar Abdullah, told reporters in a press conference at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convocation Centre (SKICC).
“The cut-off date for amnesty is today....,” he added. “In future the arrestees can only be granted bail, but this ‘general amnesty’ will not be repeated.”

The number of those charged with arson and damage to property is less than 100, Omar revealed later in response to a question. 

The government decision has come days ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr, the deadline set by separatist leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, for government to release last year’s prisoners. The octogenarian separatist intended to launch an agitation after Eid if his demands, including the release of prisoners, were not fulfilled. 

The separatist’s intentions met with a strong criticism from the state government, but the latter refused to budge from his stand.   Recently, the government also announced the release of 12 separatist leaders.
Without linking it to Geelani’s threat, the CM said the amnesty was government’s “Eidi (Eid gift)” to youth, granted for an end to “apprehensions in the society.”

“We do not want to play with your future like they (separatists) did,” CM said, addressing the youth. “Please see that they used you last year and then left you onto your own. Now they demand the release of their companions, but no one talks about you.”

Responding to a question, the CM said the amnesty was purely a decision of the state government “without having anything to do with the interlocutors’ recommendations.”

“I would assume that it is their (interlocutors) area of interest, but we have not received any recommendations on this case from interlocutors,” he said. 

There are 35 persons detained under Public Safety Act (PSA) and 70 others are in judicial custody, Omar said, giving details, adding that as many as 76 government buildings were set afire, while 38 others were damaged.
“Sixteen private buildings were also set ablaze, while 18 others were damaged,” he said. “Sixty two vehicles, including 37 owned by the government, were burnt down while 160 other vehicles were damaged during protests.”

Govt waiting for final SHRC report

The chief minister said the government would wait for the final report on mass graves from state human rights commission before suggesting or announcing any future course of action.

“SHRC has asked for our response after which it will prepare its final report. We are waiting for the final report and once it comes we will suggest or announce the future course of action,” he said.
Separatist agenda directed from across

Responding to a query about the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq stand against exploitation of state’s water resources, Omar said the “separatists’ agenda is directed from across the Line of Control (LoC).”
He said the Pakistan wanted to delay the Kishenganga project “and when it could not be achieved legally they are attempting to do it the other way.

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