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Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti says the confidence building measure will give the youth and their families an opportunity to rebuild their lives in Kashmir

In a welcome move that could help provide a healing touch to hundreds of families in the restive state of Jammu and Kashmir, the state’s Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP coalition government has initiated the first phase of withdrawing cases against youth who were booked as first-time offenders in stone-pelting incidents that rocked the Valley over the past year.

Late on Wednesday evening, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti announced the decision on Twitter while asserting that the “confidence building measure” will be a “ray of hope for these young boys and their families”.

The state government’s long-pending proposal to withdraw FIRs registered against first-time stone pelters had got a boost last month when Dineshwar Sharma, the interlocutor appointed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for holding talks with stakeholders in J&K, reportedly backed the move and urged the Centre to ensure that these cases are withdrawn at the earliest.

Mufti also acknowledged Sharma’s role in getting the ball rolling for withdrawal of the cases.

It is pertinent to note that as per official estimates, over 11,500 cases have been registered against stone pelters in different parts of J&K since July 8 last year when trouble erupted in Kashmir following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani in an encounter. Out of these, over 4,500 cases were registered against first-time stone pelters.

However, while chief minister Mehbooba Mufti went all out to pat her own back over the move, her arch political rival in the state, former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah took a dig at her. Claiming that her government was implementing the proposal to withdraw the cases only after it got approval from the Centre, Omar Abdullah pointed out that this was a matter for the state to decide on, since law and order is a state subject.

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