The state government announcing amnesty to the youth involved in stone pelting is a good beginning and could go a long way in restoring their confidence in the system.
The Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has taken a step forward towards fulfilling the promise her party had made during the election campaign. The government has withdrawn the cases registered against 104 youth and has given amnesty to more than 600 youth.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Mehbooba Mufti has emerged as a strong alternative for the people of Kashmir. It played a role of vibrant opposition from 2009 to 2014 and left no opportunity to corner the National Conference- Congress regime. Whenever youth were booked on the charges of stone pelting PDP ensured that its stages a protest and disapproves the action of the then government.
As the 2014 assembly elections threw up a fractured mandate, the PDP preferred to join hands with BJP rather than going with the Congress or its bête-noire National Conference. Many people described it as an "unpopular decision" and a few even opined that PDP has battered the interests of Kashmiris for the sake of power. The former Chief Minister late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed however, proved his critics wrong during his brief stint of a few months.
Since the day Mehbooba Mufti has taken over the reins of the state, she seems determined to carry forward the mission of her later father, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed. Despite facing stiff opposition from her coalition partner BJP over the issue of granting amnesty to the youth, Mehbooba remained firm on her stand and ensured that nothing prevents her from fulfilling the promise she had made to the youth during the election campaign of her party.
Problems of youth won't end with granting amnesty to them. They have to be provided with a chance to develop their skills and they need to be engaged. One hopes that process of engaging youth won't end with granting amnesty to them. The big task ahead for the mainstream politicians is to address the alienation among the youth and involve them in constructive tasks.
The time has proved that "oppressive" measures are no solution and constructive ways and means have to be worked out to ensure that youth don't get pushed towards the wall. It's the youth who can change the destiny of any nation.
The state government has announced slew of measures to develop the skills of the youth so that they become self reliant to make their ends meet. Peoples Democratic Party which has emerged as a Kashmir centric party has to ensure that it lives upto the expectations of the people. Lip-service won't serve any purpose.
The Government needs to carry out a complete research about why the youth in Kashmir have become so disillusioned and why they are not interested to become a part of the development process. No one can deny the fact whenever elections are held politicians lure the youth on one or other pretext. They promise them moon and stars but after winning the elections the same politicians turn their backs towards the youth who make them win and work hard. Politicians should realize that they cannot hoodwink the youth anymore as they have become politically matured and know it very well that who can do what for them. Providing class-IV jobs to youth through backdoor is no solution. During the past few years hundreds of youth have been engaged as class-IV and at present we have an army of class-IV employees.
If PDP has to prove its decision of joining hands with BJP correct then it has to take a few path-breaking initiatives vis-à-vis empowering youth. It has to make the BJP understand that it cannot call Kashmiri youth as traitors and they cannot be treated as criminals. Granting amnesty to youth is just a beginning PDP has to go a long way to ensure that it lives up to the expectations .
(Javaid Malik is Senior Editor Greater Kashmir)