Govt withdraws 284 FIRs against over 2000 youth in Kashmir

Govt withdraws 284 FIRs against over 2000 youth in Kashmir

18 May 2012
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Ahead of 2012 summer during which heavy rush of tourists and Amarnath yatris was expected in the Kashmir Valley, the State Government has withdrawn 284 First Information Reports (FIRs) against the Kashmiri youth giving relief to more than 2000 youth, who would be free of the charges of stone pelting and other crimes of similar nature, registered mostly against them during 2010 violent summer in which more than 100 civilians were killed. The Home Department of the State Government, held by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, has cleared 284 FIRs registered at various police stations across the Kashmir Valley for withdrawal from the court, official sources told the Excelsior. Acting swiftly on the orders of the Home Department, the Kashmir Police has withdrawn prosecution in 284 FIRs from the courts, which involved more than 2000 youths, who now would be free of the charge of stone pelting, violence and other such charges slapped on them during 2010 summer. The Home Department was still working on about 50 more FIRs, which could be withdrawn in the next few days, sources said. They added that only those FIRs have been withdrawn in which the youth had been booked for normal offences of indulging in stone pelting, stray incidents of violence and instigating street protests etc. However, the youth charged with serious offences like attacking para-military and police personnel or indulging in arson would face the charges in the court of law. Sources said since the police has withdrawn prosecution against the youth from the court of law on instructions of the Home Department, the FIRs registered against them would be rendered null and void. 'The withdrawal of 284 FIRs will benefit over 2000 youth as, in some cases, five to seven youth had been booked in one FIR during 2010 summer protests’’, sources said, adding that nearly 450 FIRs involving about 4000 youth had been registered during the summer unrest. While some more FIRs involving offences of minor nature were under consideration of the State Home Department for withdrawal, the remaining cases would be pursued as they involved serious nature of offences like arson, attacks etc, they said. The Government decision to withdraw 284 FIRs against the youth comes ahead of the summer in Kashmir and was intended to make it peaceful unlike 2010 when violent protests had rocked the Valley leading to over 100 casualties and large scale damage. However, 2011 summer had been quite peaceful and the Government was anticipating that this summer would also be peaceful. According to sources, the Government was expecting heavy rush of tourists in the Valley this summer. Number of Amarnath yatris was also expected to go up considerably during annual pilgrimage from June 25 to August 2. Sources said the Public Safety Act (PSA) Board was also expected to review some cases of detentions under the PSA very soon. Some of the youth detained under the PSA in the recent past could be released under the Act, they added. The Home Department has already set a process into motion in this regard and a meeting of the PSA Board was expected to be held soon to withdraw charges against some of the youth, who were either not involved in major offences or have completed most part of their sentence handed over to them under the Act. The Legislature had recently amended the PSA Act in its budget session in February-April. The changes approved in PSA by the Legislature included that a Board constituted by the Government for confirmation of PSA, imposed by the District Magistrates on recommendations of the District SPs, would have to confirm or reject the PSA within six week instead of earlier term of eight weeks. It had approved that the PSA would be imposed only for three months instead of one year in case of public law and order problem. However, it would be extendable up to a term of one year, if necessitated. However, in case of a threat to national security, the PSA would be imposed for a period of six months only instead of earlier term of two years. It would be extendable up to a period of two years. Term of the chairpersons and members of the Advisory Board for the PSA would be for a period of three years extendable for two more years.