Why I started stone pelting

I am Imran, a fourteen year school going boy from Shopian in South Kashmir. This is not my real name, I cannot reveal my real name because of fear. I fear for my life and I fear for my family because what I am going to tell is surely going to rub salt on the wounds of several people in South Kashmir.

You know I do not understand these slogans for Azadi. I do not understand why we are shouting all the time about this azadi. I asked several people about the meaning of this azadi and everyone had a different answer. Some were confused just like me, and these are our leaders who demand azadi. Anyway I will come to this azadi later on. Today I am writing to tell the truth about stone pelting and stone pelters.

I am just 14 years old, like any boy I love my family. My elder sister takes care of all the household chores because mother is physically weak. My father is toiling day and night to earn money. I want to study, support my family and make them proud. But I am forced to come out everytime stone pelting starts. Yes I am forced to come out of my house, pick up stones and throw them at police and other security force soldiers.

As usual on that day I woke up at around 7 in the morning. I had to prepare for my class test. I studied and then went to school. I came back from my school in the afternoon. I was very hungry. My elder sister had prepared mutton and rice for me. I was eating my lunch when somebody started knocking wildly at our door. I opened the door and they stormed inside. They asked me to come out for stone pelting. They said this stone pelting is for our ‘azadi’. My elder sister told them that I am just a school boy. I also said that I am not interested in politics and asked how stone pelting will win\ azadi? What is this azadi, tell me. I asked them. A local leader of Shopian was with these boys.

They laughed sarcastically and roared that “I am a traitor”. One of them even clutched my sister’s wrist and threatened me that he will rape her if I refuse to come out for stone pelting. I refused to go with them for stone pelting. But then suddenly they started shouting, “this family is a traitor. They are not with us for Kashmir’s azadi. They are a family of informers”. I had no idea what they were saying. I was an ordinary student, I just wanted to study and get a good job. But my family was branded as a traitor to Kashmir’s azadi and there were open threats to rape my sister. Finally some neighbours intervened and asked me to just go with them and throw a few stones and come back. At least you will be able to protect your sister’s honour from these criminals, they said to me.

I want to study, support my family and make them proud. But I am forced to come out every time stone pelting starts. Yes I am forced to come out of my house, pick up stones and throw them at police and security forces.

Stone pelting was easier than losing my sister. I cannot let my sister be raped by these criminals. My father also asked me to go with them if that means my sister’s honour is protected. I am helpless.