Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister on Thursday announced amnesty for first-time offenders or stone-pelters in the state, which could see the government withdrawing cases against nearly 4,500 people. The development comes a day after the Centre advised the Jammu and Kashmir government to drop charges against first-time offenders, mostly youngsters.
“It gives me immense satisfaction to restart the process of withdrawing FIRs against first-time offenders of stone pelting,” Mufti said in a series of tweets on Wednesday night. “My government had initiated the process in May 2016, but it was unfortunately stalled due to the unrest later that year.”
The chief minister said the step is part of the Centre’s commitment towards changing the narrative in Jammu and Kashmir and creating an atmosphere for sustained dialogue. “It is a ray of hope for these young boys and their families,” she said. “This initiative will provide them an opportunity to rebuild their lives.”
The move comes days before the Centre’s special interlocutor for Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, is set to visit the state for a fresh round of talks. A government official said this decision was made after Sharma submitted a preliminary report to Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh after his talks with several delegations in the state earlier in November.
“It is encouraging that the interlocutor has started on a positive note,” Mufti said. “His recommendations are being taken seriously by both the central and state governments.”
Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police SP Vaid said the process will start when they receive the government order, IANS reported.
More than 11,000 First Information Reports have been registered since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter in July 2016, according to The Indian Express. Of these, about 4,400 FIRs were registered against youths who are first-time offenders.