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Stone Pelters need to be treated as terrorists
6/18/2019 12:37:20 AM

Dinesh Singh Chauhan. Advocate

Terrorism as a tool for separatism seems to have lost its appeal in Jammu & Kashmir. While sporadic incidents of terrorist violence are likely to continue, this may no longer be the principal agent for change in the days ahead. Yet new forms of protests have emerged, principal amongst which today is stone pelting. Heavy stone-pelting is orchestrated to distract Armed Forces Personnel during counter-insurgency operations. Politics of the Kashmir Centric Politicians has ruined generations. To keep Kashmir boiling, over a last couple of years, a new profession has emerged. Yes, stone throwing on army and security forces is a profession in some parts of State of Kashmir Valley. You get paid by an hour or you get paid by number of stones you throw. The well oiled machinery which runs this profession ensures that paid stone throwers don't even have to collect their own stones. They are brought in bags and handed over to just go ahead and throw. Going rate could be anywhere between Rs. 10 to Rs. 100/- a stone thrown, depending upon the risk involved.
The aim of the sponsors of stone pelting is obvious; to keep discontent in the limelight, by forcing the government to use control measures which disrupt normal life and create crisis which can be exploited by more agitations, establishing a virtually interminable cycle of disruption. This is a low cost, high visibility strategy adopted with some success in the Valley. Thus the local incidents having a snow balling transnational impact are picked up by news agencies, particularly in Islamabad, with alacrity.
Stone pelting in Kashmir refers to a criminal assault in the form of stone throwing by Kashmiri youth who pelt, bombard or throw stones on the Indian Security Forces and Jammu & Kashmir Police deployed for crowd control in Jammu & Kashmir. In the local language, it is termed as "Kanni Jung", which means fighting with stones and the stone pelters are called as Sangbaaz.
Pelting of stones in the Kashmir Valley is not just widespread but increasingly becoming an organised activity with professional stone-pelters apparently up for hire to lead the way and then leave innocent young agitators to face pellets and bullets when the security forces are compelled to respond to bring the situation under control.
Stone-pelting used to be a way for the young and hot-blooded to vent their anger against the security forces. After Friday prayers at the Jama Masjid at Nowhatta-Srinagar stones would routinely be thrown at the men of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on duty.
It is fast becoming a regular phenomenon in Kashmir Valley! These stone-pelters who gather in large numbers and then without any provocation start pelting stones at soldiers who are engaged in operations with terrorists themselves behave like terrorists and like terrorists are responsible for inviting death.
After the rise of insurgency and separatist movement in Kashmir, the stone-pelting incidents became prominent in Kashmir from the 2008 in which the freedom movement had taken a new dimension from gun-fighting with armed forces to the pelting of stones on them. After the year 2008, stone pelting incidents in the valley were reported on regular basis, the prominent among them were recorded in 2010 Kashmir Unrest and 2016-17 Kashmir Unrest, nevertheless minor skirmishes were also reported in those intermediate years.
In 2017 the publicity office of the Pakistan Army (inter-Services Public Relations) produced an anthem for the stone-pelters, entitled "Sangbaaz" (stone-pelters), the lyrics refer to the allegation that soldiers shoot rubber bullets at rock-throwers eyes to blind them, "You can snatch out our eyes, but you cannot snatch our dreams. The song, which celebrates the stone-pelters as heroes working for the liberation of Kashmir was released on video by Major General Asif Ghafoor in a tweet.
On 28 April 2017, talking about the stone-pelters in Kashmir, the Indian Army Chief Bipin Rawat has said, "In fact, I wish these people, instead of throwing stones at us, were firing weapons at us. Then I would have been happy. Then I could do what I (want to do).
The Special Director General (J&K) Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) N. K. Tripathi stated that since the militancy related activities have declined in the region, "a new form of gunless terrorism in the shape of stone-pelting has emerged in Kashmir", "It is being funded by Pakistan and its agencies through Over Ground Workers (sympathisers of militants) and "hawala channels" with an objective to disturb the peace in Kashmir and India. He added that "There are a large number of instances of unprovoked stone-pelting by hostile mobs on CRPF that has left 1500 Jawans injured and close to 400 Vehicles damaged in the last one-and-a-half year" (2009-10).
During the 2016-17 Kashmir Unrest, in March 2017, India Today, after conducting an investigative operation in the Valley, has reported that some stone-pelters are paid for protesting by separatist forces. India Today interviewed five protesters from Baramulla District who confessed on camera that they are paid an amount of Rs 5, 000/- to Rs. Rs 7, 000/- a month and are also provided with clothes and shoes. One of them also said that separate funds are given for making petrol bombs. They refused to disclose the identity of the financiers. In April 2017, a report by Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) has stated that the Pakistan's intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) supplied Rs 800/- Crore to Kashmiri separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Asiya Andrabi to fuel unrest in the Valley. As per the report, the funds supplied by the ISI were used to pay off stone-pelters and petrol bomb throwers, and also to propagate anti-India and anti-security forces sentiments in the Valley.
In 2016, Kashmir witnessed 2690 Stone Pelting Incidents in various Districts with Baramulla topping the list with 492 Incidents followed by Srinagar and Kupwara each with 339 Incidents. The least recorded incidents were 65 in Ganderbal. According to official data of State Home Department, North Kashmir saw the highest number of 1, 248 Incidents followed by 875 Incidents in South Kashmir and 567 in Central Kashmir.
On 7th September 2018, Jammu & Kashmir plainclothes policemen disguised themselves as stone-pelters and mingled among a stone pelting mob in Srinagar, resulting in the successful arrests of repeat stone-pelting offenders. The policemen threw stones as well as used toy guns as part of the disguise. This strategy had previously been used by the police in the region during the 2010 Unrest In Kashmir.
On 25th October 2018, an Indian army soldier was killed after sustaining head injuries in a stone pelting incident in Anantnag District of South Kashmir. The Indian army soldier was identified as Rajendra Singh, a 22 year old from Uttarakhand. An army spokesperson said that Sepoy Rajendra Singh was part of a "Quick Reaction Team" that was providing security to a Boarder Roads Organization (BRO) convoy.[ Following the event Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that stone-pelters are like terrorists and must be dealt with sternly, repeating his earlier stand that the stone-pelters are nothing but Over Ground Workers of terror outfits, "I still say the same... If they (stone-pelters) can kill people with such acts, are they not becoming like terrorists."
The stone-pelters have no right to life and liberty as available under Article 21 of Constitution of India, the moment they pick up stones and engage themselves in murderous assault on our soldiers without any provocation! To have the "right to life", the stone-pelters need to give up this "menace and suicidal habit of stone pelting" which can never become a right under any circumstances and lead life like a good human being! They cannot both the cake and eat it too! Now it is for them to decide for themselves which course of action they want to choose for themselves!
The stone-pelters, whether they are women or small children or anyone else when attack Indian soldiers by forming groups and behave like Pakistani soldiers and terrorists by making determined efforts to disrupt the operations of security forces at encounter sites in the militancy-hit State of Jammu & Kashmir cannot claim right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution to which they have no faith and allegiance as they want to make India a land of ISIS, a global terror group and which wants to conquer India by force through their foot soldiers like stone-pelters who proudly display flags of ISIS every now and then as we see in different news channels also! Moreover, no Constitution, no law, no Judge, no Court not even Hon'ble Supreme Court of India can be above the unity and integrity of India and confer on anyone whether they are small children or women, the right to behave like Pakistani soldiers and terrorists by attacking Indian soldiers and not allowing them to do their job of eliminating terrorists! Such stone-pelters are themselves responsible for landing in graves rather than in schools or hospitals or any other good place!
Why the champions of human rights groups and human right organisations themselves like Amnesty International don't utter even a single word when these stone-pelters attack not just soldiers but even tourists from other States and kill them like a Tamil tourist R Thirumani aged 22 years after he was hit on the head by a stone during a protest on the outskirts of Srinagar near Narbal? The then Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti said: "My head hangs in shame. It is very sad and heartbreaking." Another former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir and the working President of National Conference which is the main opposition party - Omar Abdullah said that, "We've killed a tourist by throwing stones at the vehicle he was travelling in. Let's try and wrap our heads around the fact that we stoned a tourist, a guest, to death while we glorify these stone-pelters and their methods."
Shocking even Hon'ble Supreme Court of India has failed to strongly lash out the stone-pelters! Why Hon'ble Supreme Court allowed the former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti to withdraw cases against nearly 10, 000 stone-pelters which has only served to further encourage them to indulge in more stone pelting? Why didn't Supreme Court intervene to stop this open mockery of "Rule of Law" and open abetment to "rule of stone-pelters"? What purpose did it serve? More and more stone pelting which culminated in more and more killings!
How long will Kashmir Centric Politicians and lutiyen's lobby in the country lay blame at the doorsteps of just soldiers alone? Soldiers are expected to display the highest level of discipline and restraint but how can any soldier tolerate, tolerate and tolerate repeated abuses and attacks on his uniform, his helmet, his motherland, his Constitution and his national flag among other things and see them being burnt and even tolerate personal attacks like a sacrificial lamb and still do nothing? This is what the citizens of the country must now start understanding and not like politicians repeatedly expect soldiers alone to display repeated maximum restraint!
It is a basic principle of the American system, as well as of most other systems of criminal jurisprudence, that every crime is composed of two elements, a criminal act and criminal intent. The mental element of throwing stones and rocks without provocation can be described as mens rea and other element of carrying out the insurgent operations by army and para-military forces as the actus reus. We must declare stone pelting to be an "act of war" which will invite the highest retribution! Only then will people stop indulging in stone pelting! If not checked this will replicate all over our country which shall have catastrophic consequences for our nation which can never be permitted to happen under any circumstances! Already we are seeing how mob violence in India is growing by leaps and bounds of which even Supreme Court has taken note as in the case of killings in name of cow!
It is because of relentless efforts of media that we get to see live how our soldiers are slapped by Kashmiris, their helmets are thrown in dustbin and they are kicked and big stones are thrown at them and still we all including Kashmir Centric Politicians and lutiyen's lobby in the country expect soldiers to exercise "maximum restraint"! For how long? Every soldier does not have the same temperament! There are many who can't tolerate repeated insults and they feel compelled to retaliate on being provoked which results in many Kashmiris being killed in firing! Why are they not treated like ordinary criminals and put behind bars?
Why cases are allowed to be withdrawn against traitors, stone pelters and those responsible for killing more than lakh Kashmiri Pandits making them refugees in their own country for no fault of their own and Hurriyat leaders like Bitta Karate who even though involved in some of the killings are allowed to live life like a free bird as was rightly questioned by a leading news channel in their prime time show?
It is high time and Supreme Court must now come down heavily on all such anti-India elements just like it comes down on soldiers whenever they indulge in fake encounter killings or in any other act of wrong doing! Of course those soldiers who break law must be punished but why should cases against stone-pelters be allowed to be withdrawn openly without any one to stop them and why should murderers of Kashmiri Pandits be allowed to live like a free bird in Kashmir and play separatist politics? They must be shown their right place in jail right now!
If this is not done, the dwindling strength of soldiers will further dwindle for which we all will be equally responsible and the topmost responsibility would be of the Government of India which is expected to intervene whenever anything wrong happens Just condemning soldiers always at the drop of a hat and saying nothing to stone-pelters has done no good to our nation and we are all seeing for ourselves how this has become a "national shame" and is encouraging mob to take law in their own hands as we see in case of those who kill people in the name of cow and mercifully here the Supreme Court has just recently spoken out very strongly and very commendably against all such despicable acts of killing by mobs in the name of cow which certainly deserve zero tolerance just like stone pelting!
Why cases are allowed to be withdrawn against traitors, stone-pelters and those responsible for killing more than lakh Kashmiri Pandits making them refugees in their own country for no fault of their own and Hurriyat leaders like Bitta Karate who even though involved in some of the killings are allowed to live life like a free bird as was rightly questioned by a leading news channel in their prime time show?
It is high time and Supreme Court must now come down heavily on all such anti-India elements just like it comes down on soldiers whenever they indulge in fake encounter killings or in any other act of wrong doing! Of course those soldiers who break law must be punished but why should cases against stone-pelters be allowed to be withdrawn openly without any one to stop them and why should murderers of Kashmiri Pandits be allowed to live like a free bird in Kashmir and play separatist politics? They must be shown their right place in jail right now!
If this is not done, the dwindling strength of soldiers will further dwindle for which we all will be equally responsible and the topmost responsibility would be of the Government of India which is expected to intervene whenever anything wrong happens Just condemning soldiers always at the drop of a hat and saying nothing to stone-pelters has done no good to our nation and we are all seeing for ourselves how this has become a "national shame" and is encouraging mob to take law in their own hands as we see in case of those who kill people in the name of cow and mercifully here the Supreme Court has just recently spoken out very strongly and very commendably against all such despicable acts of killing by mobs in the name of cow which certainly deserve zero tolerance just like stone pelting!
On a concluding note, stone-pelters and terrorists have no right to life nor can they claim so after betraying their own country and soldiers have every right to kill them whenever they challenge them by attacking them without any provocation with big stones which can kill any soldier anytime! Who can question this? No justification can be allowed for stone pelting and terrorism under any circumstances which have to be dealt with on an equal footing!
Which sane person will ever justify stone pelting and which good country will ever permit stone pelting to happen on a regular basis on soldiers who guard our nation against all odds from hostile countries like Pakistan? There has to be "zero tolerance" for "stone-pelters" and "stone pelting" if this "Frankenstein monster" has to be controlled well in time just like we see in case of "terrorists and terrorism"! It will not be an exaggeration to say that stone- pelters and terrorists have no right to life under any circumstances and they have to be killed most ruthlessly by forces the moment they indulge in their despicable acts!
The past experience depicts that FIRs are filed against the army and security personnel when they took action in retaliation or in self-defence against the perpetrators of pelting stones...no similar action is taken against the perpetrators of violence against the armed forces personnel. It looked like the law had thrown its protective cloak around the pelters of stones, while the army personnel who retaliated or acted in self-defence against the mobs were booked by State administration on the command and instructions of PDP-BJP led Chief Minister Ms Mehbooba Mufti. The army and security personnel were meant to simply shrug off the rocks thrown at them by professional stone-pelters and unruly mobs and move on in silence.
There is no mechanism put in place, either by the Central Government or the State Administration to deal with brazen acts of human rights violations of the forces and enforce the security of the force while carrying arms for display only. It is time that Government of India goes ahead and says clearly, if you wage a war against India, whether on or off Indian soil, be prepared to lose everything including your life. When patience in dealing the stone- pelters with humane angle has not yielded fruitful results, surgical solutions become the only option. Protestors have become professionals and negotiate their time, days and hours of protest. For how long the biggest democracy in the world can allow stone pelters as a full-fledged industry to continue. engaging the stone-pelters as a full-fledged industry now. It's right time to strike back the stone-pelters under dynamic leadership of Mr. Narinder Modi. Unless the stone pelting is stopped, it will graduate to next bigger establishment. If bags full of stones can reach the stone-pelters easily, so can bags with hand-grenades also reach them. It is need of the hour that the Government of India to give up the appeasement policy and look beyond political affiliations. Let the Government of India come out with clear thought of dealing the class of stone-pelters with iron hands while treating the stone-pelters as terrorists. Impose a 'bullet for stone' policy on protesters and stone-pelters, including extra-judicial killings of 'suspects'.
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