Recently, former CM of Jammu and Kashmir asked the centre to declare ceasefire during Ramjan. Good joke if the centre or security forces are interested in war or security exercises. Instead of asking the co-religionists terrorists, stone pelter criminals and fanatics to shun violence and anti-national activities, she is asking the centre to stop the security operations to protect the citizens and give a free hand to terrorists.
Visualize this scene: A group of villagers in UP beat up cattle thieves, resulting in the death of a thief who happens to be a Muslim. Or this: A mob went wild and threw stones at Dalits in a Gujarat village, causing injuries to several people. What would the reaction of the media? Would it demand the rioters and mob to be treated as criminals and sternly punished? The answer will be loud yes.
Now read another news: Some rioters hit stones at a CRPF convoy in Kashmir, resulting in the driver to lose control, which caused the deaths of two innocent soldiers. Or this: Another group of Kashmiri men pelt stones, resulting in the death of an innocent tourist from Chennai. Both these events happened a few months back. What would the reaction of the media and politicians to these stone criminals? Punish them sternly or treat them kindly?
Unfortunately, criminals are treating differently for the same crime. This is the difference between a Muslim criminal and a Hindu criminal. In late 2017, before resigning from the Chief Ministership, the BJP-PDP government led by Mehabooba Mufti withdrew criminal cases against some 10, 000 stone pelters, in Kashmir as the PDP-BJP government granted them official pardon. It was given some long used terminology like ‘misguided youth’, ‘to bring back in the mainstream’, ‘healing touch’, ‘dialogue’, ‘counselling’, ‘ rehabilitation’ etc. Even some of them were given some economic packages too for their great acts. What a cruel joke with the nation and people? Sounds compassionate, doesn’t it?
If it is very good logic, why don’t apply the same to any other rioters and killers in the country? After all, someone hurting Muslims or Dalits is also clearly ‘misguided’, ‘innocent’ isn’t it? They also need ‘counselling’, ‘healing touch’, etc. So withdraw all the cases against rioters involved in Gujarat and 1984 anti-Sikh riots. They were badly upset due to the burning of Hindu ‘karsewaks’ and the assassination of a tall leader ‘Mrs Indiara Gandgi’ by Sikh bodyguards. Why not counsel the rapists and molesters instead of punishing them? Since all are equal in the eye of law. So all deserve amnesty.
But, in Kashmir amnesty failed and all the stone pelters are again on the street with double vigour. Attacks have been increased on school buses, tourists, pilgrims, and security personnel. Why is the nation so helpless against this persistent violent problem in the Kashmir Valley?
Stone pelting started by Palestinian Islamic rioters against what they termed as the Israeli occupation known as Intifada (literally meaning ‘to shake off’). The Human Right Groups, media, Islamists and activists described this as an act of brave resistance. Most of these elements are said to be on the payrolls of the Islamic nations. This was an almost literal David vs. Goliath tale being played out in actual life.
Stone pelters are also criminals. They hurl a stone, bricks, rocks and whatever they can find on the innocent targets. A stone hitting the head at high pace will kill anybody, just as a knife or a bullet targeted on anyone. Would anybody brand a person who stabbed an innocent person with a knife as an innocent or a criminal? Here there is no difference between a stone and a knife.
This kindness to stone pelters made things shoddier for stone pelters in Palestine. Stone pelting can be fatal and in fact cause deaths. So Israeli forces were given powers to use arms and shoot at stone pelters they are in danger. But due to vote bank politics and influence of foreign-funded NGOs and activists, a hard, strong reaction is not possible in the Valley.
In response to Palestinians violence with more stones and deadly Molotov cocktails, Israeli forces used more arms. Now, nobody is with Palestinians due to this. This is not the way to bring attention or solve the problem.
Soft methods have failed to tackle the problem of violence in Kashmir. In all the quarters in the Valley, and with many left-liberal senior journalists, stone pelting is still seen as a ‘romantic’, ‘Braveheart’ act, by ‘misguided’, ‘innocent’ and ‘victims of the system’ youths, betokening helplessness and deserving sympathy. For them the rioters are ‘Just a bunch of offended children, nation and system should soothe their anger.’ Well, Gujarat rioters, 1984 anti-Sikh rioters and all other criminals are upset about something. So we should soothe their anger and depression and should not punish them. The reality is this that stone pelters are influential Muslim and they can make the politics complicated too.
However, this is high time; we must stop looking at this issue through the lens of religion, or so-called liberal ethos reserved only for Muslims. Nation has to see it for what it is – a murderous assault on innocent civilians and security personnel, means they are terrorists. We must be tough like Israel, else we will not get anywhere on this trouble. Result of this benevolence is thousands injured, thousands of lives lost, destruction of Kashmir tourism and terror in the minds of billions.
For now, the latest incidents point to the call for a far ruthless policy on stone pelters. We must shun the fear of blackmailing tactics of the right’s groups. We should not have any sympathy for the so-called misguided youth. The system is highly fair to them. We are not writing books, making movies, songs and articles about their fake narratives but we are running a government where we have to protect the law-abiding citizens. The moment anyone picks up a stone and hit it, he is a criminal and involved in a criminal act. Moreover, as a nation with constitutions and laws, a criminal must be punished. Stone pelting is a serious crime, not a protest, a lethal form that can kill innocent citizen or security personnel and destroy an economy. The moment the person chooses violence, he is a criminal. Nobody can take the law of the country in hand hands, be it in the form of a-bomb, gun, knife or stone. Mehabooba Mufti should ask the terrorists and the stone pelters to ceasefire instead of asking the central government to the ceasefire.