Stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir have seen a massive drop since 2019 amid heavy presence of armed forces, Covid-related restrictions and crackdown on overground workers of militant groups.
According to data available with the Ministry of Home Affairs, stone-pelting incidents between January and July have witnessed a drop of nearly 88 per cent compared to the same period in 2019. Injuries to security forces and civilians in such incidents also dropped by 84 and 93 per cent, respectively.
According to the MHA data, 618 stone-pelting incidents were recorded in the Valley during January to July in 2019, and this number reduced to 222 for the same period in 2020 and just 76 in 2021. Injuries to security forces in these incidents also reduced from 64 in 2019 to just 10 in 2021 during the same period.
The highest drop was witnessed in injuries to civilians due to pellet guns and baton charge — from 339 in 2019 to 25 this year.
The period has seen a corresponding increase in the arrest of over-ground workers (OGWs) of militant groups — from 82 in 2019 to 178 this year.
It was on August 5, 2019 that the Centre announced abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated the state into two Union territories. The decision was preceded by heavy influx of central armed police force (CAPFs) in Kashmir, a total lockdown of the region and incarceration of all key political leaders. Following the decisions, mobile telephony remained suspended in the region for 72 days, while 4G internet was restored only after 18 months in February this year. While some of the forces have been withdrawn since, the region continues to have a heavy presence of security forces.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration recently issued orders that those found involved in stone-pelting would not get security clearance by the police for passports and government jobs.
“The combination of security force presence, Covid restrictions and crackdown on militant outfits and their overground workers has yielded good results on the law and order front. The latest circular is an effort to keep up the pressure,” a Jammu and Kashmir official said.
Sources said NIA’s crackdown on separatist leaders, many of whom have been accused of organising stone-pelting by the agency in its chargesheets, has also had an impact. “The fact that all these leaders, along with several suspected stone-pelters, have been locked in jails in Delhi and Agra for different periods since August 5 decisions, has caused serious fear of the law… fear of contracting Covid has also kept people off the streets for significant periods,” a home ministry official said.
Sources in the security establishment, however, were cautious in calling it a durable solution to law and order issues in Kashmir. “There is only as much the baton can achieve. At least not for a long time. So it is essential that political engagements are made on issues concerning the public and their fears are allayed by a pro-active administration. In this regard the step by PM Narendra Modi to engage with key political leaders of the Valley is significant. A lot will depend on what this process can deliver,” a senior security establishment officer said.
PM Narendra Modi on June 24 met leaders of all key political parties in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday and urged them to participate in the delimitation exercise which is aimed at holding elections in the erstwhile state. The leaders were also promised return of statehood at an “appropriate time”.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines