Kashmir: 300 WhatsApp groups with over 250 members were used to mobilise stone pelters

Sriparna Ghosh
Kashmir stone pelting

A police officer on Sunday said nearly 300 WhatsApp groups were being used to mobilise stone pelters in Kashmir and disrupt anti-terror operations by security forces, of which 90 per cent have been shut down in the last three weeks.

Read: 'J&K situation will improve in 2-3 months,' says CM Mehbooba Mufti after meeting PM Modi, Rajnath Singh

Each of these 300 WhatsApp groups had around 250 members each.

"We identified the groups and the group administrators, who were called in by police for counselling. We have had a good response to this initiative," said the officer, who chose to remain anonymous.

According to the official, the suspension of internet services in the valley had started showing positive results in curbing stone-pelting during encounters. He pointed out to a recent stone pelting incident in Kashmir last week, where a handful of stone pelters had gathered in Budgam after two terrorists were gunned down, as opposed to the huge crowd of stone peletrs who had gathered in the same area on March 28.

"With no internet services, the mobilisation of mobs has almost become impossible. Earlier, we would see youth from as far as 10 kilometres from the encounter sites joining the protesters to pelt stones at security forces to disrupt the anti-militancy operations. That did not happen during or after the encounter in the absence of internet on mobiles," the official said.

He said a few stone pelters blamed harassment by the security forces for taking to stone-pelting. More than half a dozen youth have been killed in stone throwing incidents in the first quarter of this year.

Besides pointing out that most of the youth resort to stone pelting in the heat of the moment, he said authorities are also devising a humane approach to deal with the protesters.

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