AGAR (AFP) Indian-occupied Kashmir has declared an amnesty for more than 1,000 youths alleged to have attacked security forces during pro-independence protests last year in which more than 100 civilians died. Kashmir was rocked for months last summer by clashes between stone-throwing demonstrators and police and paramilitary troops, who used live fire to try to control massive rallies against New Delhis rule over the region.
About 110 protesters died in the violence, most of them young males hit by gunfire from security forces during some of the worst civil unrest in the regions 20-year struggle against Indian rule. The government will drop the cases against the youths to give them an opportunity to be responsible persons and lead a normal life, IHK chief minister Omar Abdullah said in a statement released late Sunday. Abdullah said the amnesty was to remove the stigma on the character and behaviour of these youths for being involved in stone-pelting and that it would give them the chance to find employment.
The amnesty would be available to them as a one-time opportunity, he said, adding about 1,200 people would be affected by the ruling which comes ahead of Eidul Fitr.
Abdullah urged those who had evaded arrest and were in hiding to report to police to register for the amnesty.
However, he said protesters accused of setting fire to government offices and vehicles during the disturbances would still be prosecuted.