New Delhi: Union home minister Rajnath Singh embarked on a two-day visit to Srinagar on Thursday, to review the security situation in Kashmir, with the centre yet to take a decision on whether or not to continue the suspension of operations by security forces even after Ramzan.

Singh, who arrived in the valley in the morning, defended the centre’s stand on stone-pelters. “We believe that children anywhere are the same. We understand that some youth were misled into stone-pelting... Children can make mistakes...That is why we decided to withdraw the cases against those children who were involved in stone pelting," Singh said in Srinagar.

Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had in November last year announced amnesty for 4,500 first-time stone-pelters. However, intelligence officials said that continuing cases of stone-pelting in the valley were indicative of the widespread radicalization of the youth, with the Hurriyat holding sway over the local population.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police, too, said that one of the key factors that was pushing youth toward militancy was the glamour quotient attached to it.

“The extent of the problem is huge and militancy is highly glamourised. We have rescued nearly 70 boys who had joined militancy over the last three months. There is no comprehensive study yet that determines the behavioural pattern of the youth and the pattern of them joining militancy. But the youth who are out on the roads and are indulging in stone-pelting are between 15 and 25 years of age," said Jammu and Kashmir Police director general S.P. Vaid.

Experts stated that the centre needs to look beyond talks to address the security issue in Kashmir.

“The larger political environment in the state is that of negativity and hopelessness. Talks, by way of government-appointed interlocutors, have had no effect. The cases of radicalization are frightening and the state is failing to stop this. Military level talks don’t stop the youth from joining militancy either. The government needs to pay attention to detail, if it hopes to stop the ongoing violence," said Gul Mohammad Wani, professor of political science at Kashmir University.

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