Srinagar: Bharatiya Janata Party asked the police and the state government on Monday to stop arresting and releasing youth under the pretext of controlling stone pelting, accusing them of making a business out of the practice.
“Youth are being arrested after being branded as stone pelters. While one political party puts them behind bars and takes Rs 20,000 from each of them, the other party releases them for the same amount. Arresting and releasing people under the pretext of controlling stone pelting has become a trade here. We warn the police and the state government to stop frustrating the youth of Kashmir,” BJP vice president Ramesh Arora told reporters here.
Arora said that after meeting youth from old city, he has “realised that political parties were involved in extortion business”.
“I met youth from downtown and they said they are being rounded up on someone’s diktats. No case had been registered against them for the past six to seven years but they are being routinely arrested on the basis of old charges. They are released only after their families pay the money. Harassment has become an industry here,” Arora said.
Arora’s statement is surprising because his party has always advocated heavy-handed measures against political dissent in the valley.
“There is a limit to everything. Everyone knows that people pay for prized-postings and it is an industry here. But has harassment also become an industry?” he said.
About a thousand suspected stone throwers, former militants and pro-freedom leaders have been arrested ahead of the polls. The government sees them as hurdle “in the smooth conduct of polls”.
Claiming the party would win around 20 seats in Kashmir; Arora said that if BJP comes to power, the “trade of exploitation and harassment” would be stopped.
“We have half-widows here. There are 35,000 families which don’t know whether their missing kin are alive or not. Couldn’t you share information about them with their families? You could have shared information about them with their families privately if you couldn’t make it public,” Arora said.
Reacting to Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s comments that BJP was slow in providing relief to the flood-hit in the valley, he blamed the state government “for being absent on the ground”.