Angry stakeholders from Jammu and Kashmir: Stone throwers are terrorists
Angry stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir are saying death of a young tourist recently is signal that stone throwers are now aiming to kill
Father of R Thirumani being comforted as his son's body arrives in Chennai. Thirumani was killed in a stone-throwing incident in Kashmir. Pic/PTI
A 22-year-old Chennai tourist R Thirumani fell to stone throwers' missiles in the Valley on Monday, and those with a stake in Jammu & Kashmir are warning against brushing off stone-throwers as 'protesters'. Such labels, they say, are deceptively innocuous and stone throwers are terrorists whose aim is to maim or kill.
Speak out loud
Abhijeet Raja Patil, chairman of Raja Rani Travels, Mumbai, that has been taking tourists to Kashmir for the past 58 years, said, "My condolences to the family. I am so angry about the silence of the hospitality industry in Kashmir, which needs to raise its voice against stone throwers. There is an attitude of helplessness, as if this is their destiny, which is not the right attitude. Tour operators from Mumbai have been bringing people to the Valley. It is time for hotel owners in Kashmir to stand up and be counted. You may be afraid to speak out when an AK-47 is pointed at you, but stone throwers? The industry needs to stop sitting on the fence."
No Amnesty, please
Patil also rued the fact that J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti was not taking a strong enough stand against the stone throwers. "It is an attitude of spare the rod and spoil the child," said Patil, adding, "I am vociferously against amnesty for stone throwers. We need to go much stronger against them, enough is enough," he said.
Face of terror
For filmmaker Ashoke Pandit, "Stone throwers are terrorists. These are not protesters because protesters' main aim is not to kill. All these so called liberals and intellectuals and protectors of human rights need to understand that. There is a difference between holding banners in a maidan and throwing stones aimed at killing you." Pandit scoffed at spiel by "pseudos" who say, like CM Mufti has done earlier, that, "stone throwers are 'distressed'. "We cannot sympathise with them, they are being funded and are making money," he said. Pandit also slammed the BJP-PDP alliance for "appeasement policies" and claimed all those clamouring for the rights of throwers were, "The enemies that are within us are even more dangerous than those outside."
Army is target
The former president of Mumbai's Kashmiri Pandits Association (KPA) S P Kachru, who lives in the city, says, "These attacks are not targeted at ordinary people but our armed forces. Yet, civilians can get caught in the crossfire and die, as we have seen in this instance. Many years earlier, we had seen this violence aimed at the Pandits."
Kachru adds, "To an extent the PDP-BJP alliance in J&K means that the government's hands are tied. Yet, we are seeing stone throwing as a sign of desperation now, because there has been a complete upsurge in the army taking on the militancy. In the past 25 years we have not seen action like this. Stone throwers are a shield for terror and in that way complicit with the terrorists," he says.
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