THOUSANDS of youth are likely to be impacted by the J&K police move to deny security clearance to those “involved in crimes prejudicial to the security of the state, including stone-pelting.” According to an estimate, the number of street protesters in Kashmir has swelled to around 20,000.
The fresh order has directed all CID SB-Kashmir “to ensure that during verification related to passport service and any other verification related to government services, schemes, the subject’s involvement in law and order, stone pelting cases and other crime prejudicial to the security of the State be specifically looked into.” The police has also called for collecting digital evidence like the CCTV footage, photographs, videos, audio-clips and quadcopter images available in the records of the police, security forces and agencies as references.
The move rather than being a deterrent to protests and stone pelting will adversely impact the future of so many youth who may have been involved in stone pelting or protests in the past. Denial of security clearance would make it impossible for them to get jobs in the government or for that matter even in private sector. Similarly, lack of passport would also make it difficult for them to leave the country for employment.
As for the move’s deterrent value, such steps in the past have done have made no redeeming difference to the situation. What has done is the outreach to the youth. And the administration could have done so by extending amnesty to the people who have had stone pelting cases against them.
In past, the then J&K state governments have adopted this approach. For example, in 2017, the then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had embarked on a series of measures to woo back the deeply alienated people in the Valley. And among these was the amnesty to the youth booked for participating in protests and throwing stones in 2016 and the promise of their rehabilitation. Her government had also taken up review of the cases of ‘second-time offenders’ – the youth who had been booked more than once for anti-government protests or on charges of alleged stone pelting. The amnesty at the time had covered around 10,000 people, a significant number of them in the age group of 15-20. Many of them were boys in their adolescence or barely out of it.
Over the last two years, the administration has adopted a hardline approach to quell the militancy and dissent in Kashmir. The result has been mixed. But fundamentally the situation remains largely unchanged. This is where the need for an outreach comes in. It is time that the government goes back to winning hearts and minds. Effort to address alienation would create more goodwill for the government and a genuine peace on the ground.
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