It gives me immense satisfaction to restart the process of withdrawing FIRs: Mehbooba tweets
Srinagar: Finally signalling a shift in policy towards a softer approach, the Mehbooba Mufti government has decided to review cases registered against hundreds of youths for taking part in pro-freedom protests and stone-pelting incidents.
The move came after the Government of India’s special representative Dineshwar Sharma made recommendations to the home ministry to withdraw cases against youths booked for the first time for stone-pelting and protests.
Soon after Sharma spoke to the press about this, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti took to Twitter on Wednesday night and wrote, “It gives me immense satisfaction to restart the process of withdrawing FIRs against first-time offenders of stone pelting”.
“My government had initiated the process in May 2016 but it was unfortunately stalled due to the unrest later that year,” Mehbooba wrote. “It is a ray of hope for these young boys and their families. This initiative will provide them an opportunity to rebuild their lives.”
According to official estimates, more than 11,000 cases or First Information Reports (FIR) were registered against stone-pelters and pro-freedom demonstrators during the 2016 uprising, which broke out immediately after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Of these 11,000 cases, about 4,500 cases were lodged against individuals who were allegedly first-time stone pelters.
On Thursday, an official spokesman quoting the Chief Minister issued a press statement that said a review has been ordered of cases against youths registered during the period 2015-2017. An already constituted committee will review the cases and submit its recommendations within 10 days.
“The committee so tasked with the review shall be the same as was constituted earlier by the Chief Minister to review cases against youth for the 2008-2014 period, a Government order issued in this regard today said,” the spokesman stated.
The statement added that the review of cases against youths was a major demand from various sections of society, “who would be heaving a sigh of relief after this decision”.
In April 2016, the spokesman stated, the Chief Minister had set into motion a process of review of cases registered against youths between the years 2008 and 2014.
“It unfortunately got disrupted due to the continued violence and unrest for the latter part of the year,” the spokesman added.
According to the spokesman, Mufti hoped that the new decision would help in creating a positive and conciliatory atmosphere in the state.
During the 2014 assembly elections, the People’s Democratic Party had made an election pledge that it will withdraw cases against youths booked for stone-pelting and protests. However, her government was unable to do so.
Senior High Court lawyer Zaffar Shah said that FIRs can never be withdrawn, but can be killed in the court for want of evidence.
“That is why the government has ordered a review,” Shah said. “FIRs contain allegations. They have to be proved in the court. They can be killed by two methods: either by proving the allegations or failing to prove the allegations due to want of evidence.”
He explained, “The agencies can conclude that they did not find evidence to prosecute the individual. Subsequently, the cases will be dropped. Otherwise, the cases will linger on.”