How Lucrative is the Stone Pelting Business in Kashmir?

Is Stone Pelting in Kashmir really a lucrative business and how is this operated? Stone Pelters have made life difficult for the local people and the security forces in the beautiful valley of Kashmir. Stone Pelting in Kashmir has become a trend, wherein local Kashmiri youths are hired to throw stones at the Indian defence forces, including the CRPF and the JK police.

The stone pelters are mostly the youth of Kashmir from poor or lower-middle class families and are often referred to as Sangbaaz in the local language, while the action of fighting with the stone is called “Kanni Jung” or “Stone Fighting”

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People inside the state are very scared of Stone Pelting in Kashmir which is executed by trained hired youth, which can fetch them about Rs. 6000-7000 a month, that too on a part-time basis, while they continue to do their routine business. The ringleader of the stone pelting gang can earn up to Rs. 15,000 – 20,000 / month, according to confidential sources.

Stone Pelting in Kashmir: What is the Motivation?

The first such stone pelting incident happened in the year 2008 which changed the way freedom movement was being operated, from gunfighting to stone-pelting. After that, Stone Pelting in Kashmir became very common as a medium of revolt.

In 2016, there were around 2500 incidents of Stone Pelting in Kashmir. In a recent statement given by the state’s former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, he said that the Stone Pelting in Kashmir is primarily due to political disconnect of the valley from the country. People are not doing this for money or anything else, but for the reason that the people of Kashmir feel isolated from the rest of India. He also said that the problem must be accepted politically and then the solution needs to be formulated.

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However, some of the stone pelters have admitted throwing stones for money, clothes and some other basic necessities. They do this for merely Rs. 6000-7000 a month. These protesters are usually on the payroll of the underground controller who gives then the instruction to carry out this massive and cowardly attack on security forces and public servants. Also, Kashmir is a close-knit society, and the peer pressure is very high. Once the paid recruits start throwing pelting stones on the security forces, other young boys get induced in stone pelting.

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From the stone pelters view, they don’t pelt stones to win, rather this kind of activity is done by them to showcase their protest and anger. People who are troubled beyond tolerance, show their resistance by the forces of oppression by hurling stones. This is the only cheap available weapon in their hands to show their anger. It is the stone that virtually acts as the weapon of the weak and reflects the stone pelters outburst and perhaps the last try to exist.

The act of Stone Pelting in Kashmir is harsh but, the whole action scene still can be described as ‘non-violent protest’ when compared to an armed struggle. The after effect of these kinds of acts are being felt by the Kashmiri youths studying outside the state as they are sometimes being referred to be stone pelters. After the recent Budgam incident, various students studying outside the state were being harassed for such acts.

People all over the country are concerned about the situation. A squad of 1000 Jansena (people’s army), part of Kanpur based religious organisation, has voluntarily decided to help the security forces from the stone pelters.

Overall, this is a vicious circle for which the Indian government needs to find a concrete and durable solution. Stone Pelting in Kashmir by angry and paid mobs leads to retaliation by security forces (which includes the use of pellet guns, night raids, arrests, beatings etc.) which often results in loss of precious, & sometimes innocent lives in Kashmir.

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Not all people killed or injured are part of the paid mobs, and their anguish triggers massive anger and protests amongst the local population. The angry mobs, along with paid recruits, again starts to pelt stones at the security forces, which like a vicious cycle, results in retaliatory actions by the security forces, and the beautiful valley continues to simmer in tension, violence and bloodshed.