In 2018, Six Uttar Pradesh youths who had found jobs in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama have claimed they were made to pelt stones at security forces. Director-General of Police said these six youths from Baghpat and Saharanpur districts have complained that they were told to take part in stone-pelting. Fed up with this, they returned home, the officer added. It was also reported that many still took part, it was easy income for local as well as poor migrant youth.
Intelligence reports and several probes have proven that money has long been pumped into Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan via separatists and its other proxies, which is then used to pay those pelting stones at security forces.
On Monthly Payroll
“A number of the stone-throwers have admitted to being on the payroll of unknown ‘underground masters’ in order to attack security forces, public servants and property in the troubled region” as quoted from a report.
A cog in the wheels of this notoriety, “on the payroll” Bhatt reveals, he would also supply and use petrol bombs. ‘We get separate funds for making petrol bombs,’ Bhat said. He charges up to Rs 700 for making one Molotov cocktail. ‘I must have made 50-60 bombs. We throw them on vehicles and whosoever comes in between,’ he said.
From July to October 2016, as many as 19,000 people were injured and 92 killed in a series of clashes between rock-throwing protesters and security forces in Kashmir, news reports suggest. Around 4,000 security personnel were among the wounded. Two jawans were reportedly among the dead.
But for stone-pelters such as Farooq Ahmad Lone, violent agitations are their livelihood.’ It could be Rs 1000, 2000, 3000 or even Rs 5000,’ said Lone, quoting his daily income from organizing shutdowns and stone-throwing demonstrations. ‘We have been pelting stones since 2008.’ Wasim Ahmed Khan put his monthly stipend from rock-hurling protests at Rs 5000 -Rs 6000. For accomplice Veeri, it’s Rs 700 a day on weekdays and up to Rs 1000 on holy Fridays.
ISI’s cash registers accessed by prominent news agencies revealed money trail leadings from ISI headquarters in ISI to Srinagar, Anantnag, Pulwama, and Kupwara. ISI Pointman Ahmed Sagar’s continuous touch with Hurriyat frontends like Shabbir Shah, which makes its way through Hurriyat’s district offices.
‘He just arrives. He’s known to one of my friends,’ replied Veeri, refusing to name his paymaster. The hidden masterminds would use the Internet to organize stone-pelting across various locations in Jammu and Kashmir, revealed Ibrahim Khan. Instructions regarding potential targets, he explained, were circulated on group-messaging services beforehand. ‘Instructions are issued on WhatsApp groups,’ Khan said.
Development or Independence
Stone pelting for long has become a popular approach for youths to express their anger against the government, more so gained momentum as an instrument of protests post Arab Spring. However, this becomes an available manner to effect escalations of violence, as it becomes deadly, requiring the application of force, resulting in casualties. This works, if not for any other ends, but internationalizing the issue, spectacular headlines as they say.
By his own admission, a seasoned stone pelter Bhat sounded unapologetic about forging contracts with obscure enemies to strike at troops in the Valley. ‘We pelt security forces with stones J&K police personnel, Army jawans, MLAs, and government vehicles.’ But this hired extremist refused to disclose the identity of his financiers.
Reason: affinity to so-called Cause? No, its sustenance ‘We will die but won’t reveal their names. It’s the question of our bread and butter.’
Answer to this lies in provisioning the people with Jobs, earnings which shall translate to a sense of self-respect and which can further lead to the functioning of society as a whole. It’s a fact that people take up arms/dissent against policies which has led them to the present state. It has been happening in all places across the world. What is required is a jumpstart to that dream.
In the last fifteen years, the number of young Kashmiri Muslims studying and working in the rest of India has grown significantly. Kashmiri Muslims have become part of campus politics, being elected to student offices in prestigious national educational institutes like the Jawaharlal Nehru University and Aligarh Muslim University, for instance. They can be found working in Pune, Mumbai, distant Kerala and Goa.
What they see in the rest of the country, is what they aspire for the state to be. They see development, quality of life and jobs. They want the same for Kashmir. Thence, with drying up of funds and curbs on Internet/Whatsapp based callings for stone pelting, there has not been any incident of the same, save at places, at a local level, where the very negligible level of coordination is effected.
The disappearance of mass-scale agitations is visible, and people can see normalcy, since as far as September, returning normal lives by common Kashmiri. They trust the amendment in the constitutional status of Kashmir shall ensure their right shall reach to them, their funds shall be for their de0velopment, Kashmir shall grow.
Interestingly since September 2019, there has been ease in curfews. Still, there has not been any mass stone-pelting incident. While Internet curbs have made life tough than before, however common Kashmiri wants to usher the changing times and join the nation, in the march towards a bright future. Despite sporadic efforts to effect bribe based stone pelting, the call stands rejected by most Kashmiris. Internet restrictions had an unprecedented success, not seen ever since this paid-protests had begun, way back in 2008. All of this indicates how much the common man Kashmiri is willing to embrace development, and for once believe in one India, One economy, One people as together we stand for ourselves.
10 Dec 19/Tuesday Written by Fayaz