Stone-pelters in Kashmir are unlikely to “back down” as they are buoyed by the negative publicity that the Central armed forces in Kashmir have got, intelligence agencies have told the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The agencies have also stated that a comprehensive strategy to tackle the stone-pelters must be devised, including booking them under stringent laws. As per a ground assessment report prepared by the officials, the separatist leaders in Kashmir are “very satisfied” with the negative publicity that the armed forces have got. They have asked the group leaders of the stone throwers to “keep up the pressure”.

A source in the MHA said that “The jawan on the ground is facing hundreds of stone throwers. He is a sitting duck unless he responds and injures the stone throwers. The experience from the ground tells us that unless and until one of them is injured, they continue to hurl stones at our jawans.

The recent directions of Home Minister Rajnath Singh that the use of pellet bullets should be curbed, has not gone down well with the security forces present on the ground.”

Singh had stated that the security forces have been asked to refrain from using pellet guns. This apparent soft stand being adopted by Singh has come under question by the security agencies. “The scale of disturbance in the valley right now is similar to what we had witnessed during the Amarnath Yatra protests in 2010. The separatists are deploying the Palestinian type ‘intifada’ (uprising) and painting images of youths throwing stones at the Indian security forces. It has a very powerful symbolic message for the international audience.  The use of live bullets is not allowed except in rare circumstances and now the use of pellet bullets is being discouraged. How are our men on ground supposed to protect themselves then?” the official asked.

According to officials, the soft approach being adopted by the MHA was unlikely to appease the protesters.

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