J&K asked to offer counselling, rehab to first-time stone-pelters

NEW DELHI: The Centre has asked J&K government to offer professional counselling to youth arrested for the first time for stone-pelting and open more rehabilitation homes in the state where they will be housed for the counselling.
Senior government officials told ET that the Centre considers these youth, the third generation Kashmiri born post year 2000, as the “real stakeholders” in the peace process in J&K since they do not carry the baggage of 1947 or the militancy struggle of 1990s that their earlier generations did.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh during his four-day visit to J&K had said that the first-time young stone-pelters should not be sent to jail but rehab homes and review such cases in the past. This is being seen as a big confidence-building measure. Officials said both the Army and J&K Police were on board for the measure proposed by the Home Minister and the J&K government had pushed for it too.
Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh, who accompanied the Home Minister in the present trip, said on Wednesday that they had held a meeting with the youth in Srinagar where the findings of the recent NIA probe against separatists were shared.
“We told the youth that if these crores of rupees, channelled by the separatists for violence, were used for development of J&K, Srinagar would have been Hyderabad & Jammu would have been Jalandhar. I think these words had an effect on J&K youth and we will say it again. This is third generation Kashmiri which is not bound by past baggage but goes by own logic,” Jitendra Singh said.
He added that the youth were asked to question separatist leaders why they had not chosen the path of violence for their own children but handed over guns and stones in hands of other youth. “We asked them what model of freedom struggle is being followed in J&K. Is it the Gandhi model, or the Martin Luther King model or was it the Guru Gobind Singh model? If it is the Guru Gobind model, you start by sacrificing your own children but they have made their own children safe by sending them abroad where they run big businesses. Instead, the separatists have made other’s children as stonepelters,” Singh said. He further pointed out that 70% of people in J&K are below the age of 40.
“These are impressionable youth who are leaderless and have no political alignment,” a senior government official said. “We want them to be counselled like the existing anti-radicalisation counselling in J&K to wean them away from the path of violence and not spoil their career due to a police case. This is a large constituency in J&K which is being addressed,” the functionary added.