MOHAMMED Yousuf sits peacefully looking at the dark blue sky as the sound of Shikara rowing through Dal Lake makes a soothing melody. “The youth here has become prudent. The game that few people played with the youth of Kashmir has stopped. They know it very well that they will get nothing from militancy. Today’s youth is focused on their studies.
All the protests and stone-pelting incidents that we used to see every day no longer takes place,” says Yousuf, citing a drop in the incidents of stone-pelting in Kashmir after the nullification of Article 370 in August last year. Stone pelting, as the name suggests, refers to assault by throwing stones, by a section of Kashmiri youth on security forces, deployed for crowd control. The deadly attacks became a routine form of protest in the streets of Srinagar.
There were 2,653 incidents of stone-throwing in 2016. A probe by the National Investigating Agency in 2017 revealed that Pakistan routed money into the Kashmir Valley to be paid to stone-pelters. Young men were paid Rs 500 each for throwing stones on Army and other defence forces
. “As Pakistan has failed four times in direct wars, so they are investing in such means, whether its hawala money or fake money through these leaders who claim to be the representatives of Kashmiris,” said Nirmal Singh, the then Deputy Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2017. “After August 5 last year, Kashmir has starting treading towards a new path. Now, they know that there is transparency in the system and accountability. It is among the big positive changes in the region,” explains Altaf Thakur, a Sarpanch from Pulwama.