Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kashmiri youths await 'Eid gift' amnesty over clashes

24 February 2012

By Riyaz Masroor BBC News, JammuNearly 3,000 youths charged in clashes with police in Indian-administered Kashmir have not yet been granted a promised amnesty, officials say.


The region's law minister, Ali Muhammad Sagar, said the government is still reviewing more than 200 cases and the young men may be amnestied by December.

Chief minister Omar Abdullah announced the amnesty as an "Eid gift" after street protests broke out in 2010.

The government is facing criticism for not meeting the promise.

In a written reply to queries by the opposition, the Omar Abdullah-led coalition government admitted that the amnesty has not been extended to anyone.

'Cruel joke'The police charges are preventing many young men in Indian-administered Kashmir from proceeding with their education or finding work.

"My career is ruined. I cannot seek admission in any college. I cannot get a passport, and worse, I cannot get a government job," said one young man, arrested for throwing stones at police, who did not want to be named.

According to official figures, more than 1,000 young men in Pulwama, a district in the south of the region, were charged.

Chief minister Omar Abdullah's home town of Ganderbal had the second-highest number of prosecutions at 250.

Mr Abdullah's government has faced attacks in Kashmir's 87-member legislative assembly over the delay.

But the government has promised many of the cases involving some 2,700 youths are being reviewed.

"Yes, we could not implement the offer, but we are reviewing over 200 cases affecting 1,500 boys. They may get some relief by December," law minister Sagar told the BBC.

Opposition leaders have confronted the government over its stand.

"Last year, the government claimed they gave the Eid gift but today they say they have held it back. It is a cruel joke," said People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti.

More than 100 people died in the clashes in 2010, most of them shot dead by the security forces.

Kashmir, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan, has recently seen a drop in violence.

Thousands of people have been killed in the region since an armed rebellion against Indian rule erupted in 1989.

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