New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday told the Lok Sabha that the law and order situation in the Kashmir Valley has improved since August 5 when the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act was passed by Parliament revoking the erstwhile state’s special status and bifurcating it into Union Territories. However, the supporting data released does not bolster the claim.
When BJP MP Kanakmal Katara asked if incidents of stone pelting have gone down, Minister of State (MOS) G Kishen Reddy replied in the affirmative, but the subsequent data appears contradictory.
“Since August 5, 2019, to November 15, 2019, 765 people have been arrested in 190 cases registered relating to stone pelting/law and order,” said the MHA’s written reply. “From January 1, 2019, to August 4, 2019, 361 such cases were registered.”
The reply did not mention how many people were arrested for stone pelting before the government’s move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5.
Government officials said the number of stone pelting incidents are far fewer than ones reported in the aftermath of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s death in 2016.
Reddy said the government had adopted multi-pronged policies to check the menace of stone pelting and had succeeded in curbing it to the extent that a large number of troublemakers, instigators and mob-mobilisers were identified and various preventive measures taken against them, including detention under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) and preventive arrests.
He blamed Hurriyat-backed organisations for the incidents of stone pelting.
“Investigation has revealed that various separatist organisations and activists, which are part of the Hurriyat, have been behind the incidents of stone pelting in Kashmir Valley. The NIA (National Investigation Agency) has chargesheeted 18 persons in the terror funding cases so far,” he said.
Replying to another question, Reddy said the Jammu and Kashmir administration has informed that a total of 34,10,219 tourists, including 12,934 foreigners tourists, have visited Jammu and Kashmir in the last six months and an income of Rs 25.12 crore has been earned through tourism during this period.
In the run-up to the August 5th enactment of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, the government had suspended the Amarnath Yatra, advising tourists to return from Kashmir. The advisory was revoked a month ago. Pilgrims to Vaishno Devi and Amarnath constitute a large chunk of domestic tourists who visit Jammu and Kashmir.
Reddy said after the abrogation of Article 370, attendance of students initially was thin in the schools of Jammu and Kashmir, but it gradually picked up; it currently stood at 99.7% during the ongoing examination.
To a question related to the use of pellet guns since August 5, Reddy said they were used with abundant caution, only to deal with severe law-and-order problems to avoid civilian casualties.