Omar Id Amnesty For Stone Throwers28 August 2011
The Telegraph (Kolkata)
Srinagar: Omar Abdullah today announced a general amnesty for Kashmiri youths involved in stone-throwing during last summer’s unrest, the “Id gift” coming after a night of similar attacks dubbed the worst this season. A source said the plan, worked out in recent weeks, could benefit most of the 5,000 youths arrested in over 1,200 cases. The chief minister said the government had decided to give youths, who couldn’t get job clearances and documents like passports because of the cases, a “second chance”. He described the amnesty as an “Id gift” to the youths “led astray” by separatists. “Those youths involved in cases of stone-pelting, except those who have burnt government property, will be given another chance to become responsible citizens. We are withdrawing all cases and all their records will be cleared,” Omar said. The amnesty will be for those out on bail. Omar said those still in hiding must secure bail first to get amnesty. “They (the youths) cannot get NOC (no-objection certificates) for jobs or passports. Therefore, this is a one-time scheme for them. I urge their parents (of youths in hiding) to get bails for their wards so they too can be brought under this scheme.” Omar said the youths were “used and provoked” but later left to fend for themselves. “They (separatists) are calling for the release of their associates and threatening an agitation but there is no word for those (the youths) whom they used.” The allusion was to Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who has been pressing for the release of jailed separatists. Hours before the amnesty announcement, 73 alleged stone-throwers were arrested last night. They were part of groups of hundreds who allegedly hurled stones and petrol bombs at a police station during Shab-e-Qadr festivities. A police spokesperson said six policemen were injured in the five-hour clashes, the first instance of such widespread trouble in a largely peaceful year. Omar said the amnesty applied to anyone arrested “till today”, suggesting it covered those arrested last night.