Amnesty to first time offenders ‘perturbs’ hardliners

Amnesty to first time offenders ‘perturbs’ hardliners

Afaq Bhat

Srinagar, Nov 23: The Centre’s interlocutor on Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma toeing a soft line has apparently disturbed the hardliners in New Delhi and even a few hardliners in BJP’s state unit.
Sources told Precious Kashmir that state BJP leaders too are unhappy with the decision of the Centre to grant amnesty to first time offenders.
“A few leaders have openly conveyed to New Delhi that stone-pelters should be treated firmly if it wants peace to prevail in Kashmir,” sources said.
They said that a few BJP leaders are of the opinion that granting amnesty to stone-pelters has not gone well for them in Jammu region. “They (BJP leaders) believe that their government cannot be soft towards separatists and anti-national elements. They won the last election by promising stern action against the people who oppose New Delhi’s rule,” sources claimed.
They said that despite opposition by a few leaders the state government has gone ahead and has granted amnesty to the first time offenders. “For PDP granting amnesty to first time offenders has come as a shot in arm and has restored its credibility to some extent in Kashmir.”
Insiders revealed that Sharma has also recommended setting the political prisoners free. “Centre has taken a note of the suggestion and it could be the next step towards taking the peace initiative forward,” they added.
Sources said that a few BJP leaders in the state have conveyed it to the party high command that before taking such decisions they should be taken on board so that it doesn’t given an upper hand to PDP. “BJP is a part of the state government and it cannot be ignored. We need to know what’s happening. It’s unfortunate that we come to know about such decisions through media,” a senior BJP leader said.
He said that people sitting in New Delhi should realize that our constituency is Jammu and not Kashmir. “Let’s hope that granting amnesty to nearly 4500 first time offenders doesn’t backfire. If it happens it can lead to a big law and order problem,” the BJP leader said.
A PDP leader said that Centre by granting the amnesty to stone-pelters has taken a bold step. “Centre has endorsed our stand and taken our suggestion seriously. Amnesty to stone pelters is just a beginning there are many more steps in offing. The people who were criticizing our decision to join hands with the BJP have been left red faced. Previous regime could not even grant amnesty to even one stone-pelter not talk about youth in thousands,” the PDP leader added.