One of the glimpses of stone pelting in Srinagar’s  old city during 2010 protests.Pic: Bilal Bahadur
One of the glimpses of stone pelting in Srinagar’s old city during 2010 protests.
Pic: Bilal Bahadur

Showkat Wani, 22, a youth from Srinagar’s Safa Kadal locality was recently released by Jammu and Kashmir police. A mechanic by profession, Wani was arrested in a case of stone pelting last year. “When I was arrested, a police official of Nawhatta police station asked me to recite some verses from the Holy Quran,” Wani told me after much insistence and on the condition that his real name would not be disclosed. “I had not read Quran in my life. So they arranged a Moulana sahab for me and other inmates who would visit the jail everyday and teach us Quran for one hour.”

After six months of counseling and religious teaching, Wani, a Class 6 dropout, learnt to recite the Holy Quran eloquently. “When the police officials at Nawhatta police station were satisfied that I had learnt the holy verses by heart, I was taken to Srinagar’s District Police Lines where I was asked to recite some of them in front of SSP,” Wani claims. “After I recited the verses, SSP instructed me to continue with my Islamic teachings. I was released soon after that.”

Wani is not the only stone pelter who was released after successfully passing the recitation test which is conducted for arrested youth at District Police Lines in Srinagar. Scores of other youth involved in stone pelting have been released in a similar manner. “We found that many stone pelters had no knowledge of Islam or any formal religious education. After we organized their interaction with religious scholars, their perception towards police as well as stone pelting has changed,” Iqbal Ahmad Shah, Station House Officer (SHO) Nawhatta police station, said.

The Rehabilitation Policy has begun to show results. In March this year, the state government informed the Legislative Assembly that 86 persons were held under Public Safety Act (PSA) and lodged in different jails across the state.

In 2011, 188 youth were lodged in the prison of Nawhatta police station, “The number halved in 2012 when only 97 youth were in custody on charges of stone-pelting,” SHO Shah, a post-graduate in environmental science, said. According to latest figures of Jammu and Kashmir police, 3500, 2000 and 700 youth were arrested on charges of stone pelting in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and 1155, 89 and 100 cases were registered respectively.

In 2013, SHO Shah says that only 27 youth were arrested from Nawhatta. “Out of them, only nine cases are of stone pelting,” he says. “This area which otherwise is considered as a hotbed of stone pelting in Kashmir is witnessing a calm presently,” he said.

At the Nawhatta police station, Sahil and his fellow inmates are in no mood to take a break from their daily routine of memorizing Quran. I peep through the iron bars of their prison. Their smiling faces wondrously looked at the stranger who was examining their countenances. “I think this rehabilitation policy played a major role to control the menace of stone pelting. But there is no room to feel complacent. We need to remain vigilant,” SHO Shah said.


  1. First time in my life I have heard something good about Kashmir police. I know there are some good police men and officers. I have had the pleasure of seeing some good religious policemen and i am sure there must be many more but the bad apples are more prominent and morover, we in extreme passion and hatred paint every one with the same brush. Good people are always around otherwise the world would have come to an end by now.

  2. There is nothing good r bad abt police…their social responsibility role which has taken a fillip since few years is also a reactionary move 2 undo all those harms they inflicted on masses….i wud suggest them that rather than launching such a move they must inculcate more professional values among their men so that they dont deviate while performing their duties…..being an employee r being a stooge…..choice is theirs..


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