Pelters-turned-SPOs to deal with stone throwers

Last Updated: Sunday, May 16, 2010 - 18:17

Srinagar: In a new strategy to combat stone
pelting menace, the Jammu and Kashmir police are wooing the
separatist-backed misguided youth and even made some of them
Special Police Officers to take on their former partners in
crime.

And adding zing to the reform process was `Bharat
Darshan` tours for the misguided youth in an attempt by police
to wean them away from stone pelting and help lead a normal
life. Stone-pelting has for long been part of J&K`s
political landscape and a chronic problem.

A massive exercise was undertaken at the police station
level to identify the youths who were engaging in stone-
pelting at the drop of a hat or on a call by the separatists.

During the survey, it was found there were three
categories of stone-pelters -- skilled unemployed youngsters,
students and unskilled unemployed youths, a senior state
government official said on Sunday.

Many misguided youths, who had made a profession out of
stone-pelting in the Valley, were now being inducted as SPOs.

85 of such youths were deployed in areas that are prone
to stone-pelting to deal with the menace.

Ever since their deployment, the incidents of
stone-pelting have come down drastically. "Like a computer
hacker knows the mind of a hacker, here also we experimented
by employing those indulging in stone pelting... the result is
definitely encouraging," said a senior police official.

To prevent them from being weaned away by separatists,
nearly 3,100 youths in various parts of the Valley were called
to local police stations. They were given computer and
vocational training to help earn livelihood whereas some
1,800 student `pelters` were sent on `Bharat Darshan` tours,
officials said.

The screening process was done in a meticulous manner
and after that the vocational training and the trip outside
the state was decided, the official said, adding, the visit
has opened the eyes of many youths who have understood the
futility of "playing into the hands of separatists".

In yet another step to act against the masterminds
behind the stone-pelters, police have booked 100-odd people
under Public Safety Act as they were receiving funds from
separatists and others for such activities.

Separatist and militant outfits, especially those owing
allegiance to Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen and
Lashkar-e-Toiba are alleged to have formed several groups
comprising a minimum of a dozen people, official sources said.

These groups are paid a hefty amount ranging between Rs
5 lakh and 8 lakh, they said, adding a part of this
money is handed over to another group known as "initiators"
who pick up stones and start throwing them on police and
paramilitary forces -- sometimes over trivial issues.

The groups, which are allegedly receiving funds from a
political party as well, have stationed their people in
various parts of the Valley, the sources said, adding this
could be the reason for stone-pelting incidents occurring
in a synchronised manner during protests.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, May 16, 2010 - 18:17

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