When a huge piece of land was allotted to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board with PDP-Congress government being at the helm of affairs, the Kashmir valley got up in arms against this move of the government. Huge rallies came out at various places like the famous Lal Chowk, TRC and Eidgah. There was one different thing in the protests of 2008. There was no stone pelting back then. People came out to protest and faced tear gas canisters, and other supposed non-lethal weapons.

In 2010 pellet gun was introduced and this putative non-lethal weapon effectively started eliminating Kashmiri protesters who were demanding their rights from the governments of Kashmir and India. People numbering around 150 (most of them being youth) were killed during protests with these weapons touted as non-lethal. Many like 8-year old Sameer Rah were killed. Sameer was going to buy candies and was brutally assaulted by CRPF men, which resulted in his death. Fifteen-year old Wamiq Farooq was returning home from tuition, when he was fired upon and killed instantly. These things happened when there was almost negligible provocation from the protesters except reverberating of slogans. This fuelled public anger.The situation these days is different with that of 1990s. In the 1990s many Kashmiris picked up guns. Some believe that they numbered almost close to 60 thousand armed men.

At this juncture when youth saw bullets showered upon them even when they were protesting peacefully they took up stones in their hands. Now, almost on every Friday, there are incidents of stone-pelting in many parts of Kashmir with Nowhatta and Khanyar being the most volatile areas where Indian security forces have a tough time every Friday. These youth were booked under black laws like PSA and on Sedition charges before the advent of stone-pelting. Many Kashmiris allege that bribe was taken from parents just to produce their children before a court. These steps led to the making of a stone pelter. When the frustrated youth of Kashmir, who had dreams of becoming doctor, engineer or scientist were booked under black laws and were harassed they were compelled to pick up stones and throw it at police and security personnel.

Since 2010 this has become a popular and effective weapon of Kashmiris who are in the streets protesting and throwing stones. Everytime their stones are answered with bullets, tear gas and pellets,which result in traumatic injuries and, sometimes, death. It is hypocritical for Indian media persons and Indian politicians claiming that the stone pelters are paid an amount of Rs. 500 a day to pelt stones. This naïve assertion doesn’t sound acceptable.Life is priceless and a stone pelter of Kashmir knows that in return for his stone he would be fired at with live bullet, tear smoke or a round of pellets which can blind him, or even instantly kill him. We can’t accept that a person risks his life for a paltry Rs. 500. By issuing such statements the Indian leadership has proved its incompetence repeatedly.

Imran Sheikh
Kishtwar, J&K 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 November 2016 on page no. 2

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