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Govt’s policy of ‘No passport’ for stone-pelters unnerve Kashmir Netas

WebdeskAug 03, 2021, 07:46 AM IST

Govt’s policy of ‘No passport’ for stone-pelters unnerve Kashmir Netas

                                                                                                                                                                         Nirendra Dev

 

The newly framed rules say that passport verification for individuals should include checking of stone-pelting cases.  

 

New Delhi: Who has triggered this latest debate about stone-pelters not getting passports in Jammu and Kashmir? Or a more specific question can be–how far will this debate go?

 

Commentators may differ by asking how much the precise results of this move by the authorities would yield.

 

The newly framed rules say that passport verification for individuals should include checking of stone-pelting cases.

 

There is little to dispute that stone-pelting in Jammu and Kashmir refers to throwing stones by Kashmiri youth on the armed forces and VIPs. This was used as a tool abundantly to throw open challenges to Indian authorities around 2016-17, and of course, there was severe politicking involved in the entire saga.

 

Stone pelting prevented security forces from discharging their duties, and the terrorists would either execute their plans or make an escape.

 

It was reported that the PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti (in Nov-Dec 2017) had withdrawn 4500 cases against so-called 'first-time' pelters. She also reportedly dropped about 10,000 cases 'serial stone pelters in February 2018. The government authorities claim there have been a significant drop in stone-pelting cases in the last few years. In 2021 so far, there have been only 55 cases against 248 in 2020. During the peak, 2808 cases of stone-pelting were reported in 2016, and it came down gradually to 2361 (2017), 2280 (2018) and 2341 (2019).   

 

 

 

And this politicking went beyond borders, and hence the issue has now snowballed into a major row.

 

In 2017, Pakistan military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor, in a tweet, released a video that had a song referring to a stone-pelting episode in Kashmir. And the song would translate–“You can snatch our eyes, but you cannot snatch our dreams.”

 

A new circular from J&K CID, Special Branch, now directs all field units to ensure that all passport verification processes should confirm no involvement in stone-pelting cases and other crimes. The cops can now even refer to CCTV clips, audio and photos before giving mandatory passport clearance to applicants.

 

“Also, digital evidence like CCTV footage, photographs, videos and audio clips, quadcopter images available in the records of the police, security forces and security agencies be also referred,” said the circular.

 

“All the field units of CID SB-Kashmir are hereby directed to ensure that during verification related to passport, service and any other verification related to government services/schemes, the subject's involvement in law & order, stone pelting cases and other crime prejudicial to the security of the state be specifically looked into," the order said.

 

Notably, this fresh move comes weeks after some J&K government officials were dismissed from service for alleged anti-state and anti-national activities.

 

As expected, there has been vehement opposition to new passport norms from the valley politicians.

 

National Conference leader and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said, “an adverse police report” is not sufficient to deny passports, and rather, such ban can be imposed only if one is found guilty by a court of law.

 

Another former Chief Minister and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti tweeted: “Kashmiris are considered guilty until proven innocent.....”

 

A satisfactory CID report is also now mandatory for a government job in Jammu-Kashmir.

 

A person must disclose whether any family member or close relative is associated with any political party or organisation or has taken part in any political activity, whether they have had links with a foreign mission or organisation or any prescribed/ prohibited/ banned organisation like Jamaat-e-Islami.

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