Drug addiction, broken families and domestic problems are pushing youth to join the ubiquitous stone-pelting cartels in the Kashmir valley.
Jammu and Kashmir police on Wednesday claimed that 72% of 1000 youth arrested in Srinagar district for stone-pelting belong to the broken families. And majority of them are hooked to drugs, which is one the biggest factor that drives them to fall into the trap of stone-pelting.
“We have conducted our own survey about the 1000 youth arrested for stone-pelting in Srinagar district. We found that 72% have a background of broken families. Some are orphans and some have other problems. Majority of them if not all also have the history of drug addiction”, said Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Srinagar.
What is more worrying factor is that the heroism displayed by the stone throwers during clashes with security forces has been under the influence of the drugs, police said.
The images of stone pelters chasing the security forces laced with deadly weapons or attacking armoured vehicles with rocks and tree trunks during the street clashes have received much attention last summer. But police now say these heroics were nothing but drug-induced machismo to create sensation.
“If you see a picture in which a stone pelter jumps over a bullet proof vehicle, is because the man is under the influence of the drugs. A normal man cannot do it knowing fully well it will not have any impact. It is only drug-induced heroism,” said Bukhari More alarming is the fact that the drug addicts are easily falling victim to anti-national elements who exploit their weakness to force them to join stone pelting groups and brave bullets.
“They (drug addicts) are easy to fall prey to the mentors who are waiting to exploit such men for creating disturbance and stone pelting,” said the SSP.
Official figures reveal around 110 people have lost their lives and 537 civilians were injured mostly in security forces firing during stone-pelting incidents from May to September 21, 2010. Around 1,274 CRPF men and 2,747 police personnel have been injured during the same period across the valley.
Police have now started de-addiction camps to treat youth with complaints of drug addictions. “We have held some camps for the youth with history of drugs. We have a full-fledged de-addiction centre functional for helping the youth to overcome the problems,” said Bukhari.