The Bold Voice of J&K

Stone politics

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Stone pelting in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh has some commonality-i.e. youth, but traditionally later differs in value. Himachal Pradesh celebrates a unique festival called as ‘Pathron Ka Khel’  (stone pelting festival) at Halog located 25 km away from the state capital of Shimla a day after Diwali. Though origin of this tradition is not known, the practice has been prevalent for centuries.  Conventionally women do not participate in it but they are there as spectators. The event lasts for nearly half-an-hour and as soon as someone gets hurt it comes to an end. Local people claim that the festival has been traditionally meant for warriors only and no outsider is allowed to participate. The event almost has become a tourist attraction where people from nearby states and far off places who are on vacation to the hill state prefer to watch the ritual where villagers target their own kin as part of festivities and enjoy the tradition. While in Kashmir stone pelting is no festival. It has turned out to be a medium for taking out ire against the Indian Government and target security men deployed there by the elements inimical to peace in the State. And the government has been benevolent in extending doles like government job offers to bring these ‘innocent youth’ back to the mainstream. The Valley phenomenon is of recent origin where they see security agencies as occupational forces. It was the same occupational force which remained on the forefront to save people from the worst heard calamities. During those difficult days,  some people in Srinagar’s Rainawari area pelted stones at helicopters carrying food and relief material. With four such incidents in the area, the choppers could not drop food packets and had to return. This makes the difference in use of stones in picturesque Himachal and Kashmir.

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