Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's announcement of withdrawal of cases against youth involved in stone-pelting for the first time is a good healing touch gesture and must be appreciated for its boldness. Reportedly this step was taken on the suggestion of the Centre's special representative Dineshwar Sharma. Mehbooba Mufti tweeted

She further tweets “it is a ray of hope for these young boys and their families. This initiative will provide them an opportunity to rebuild their lives.”

Mebooba Mufti has always reiterated her philosophy of providing healing touch at every occasion but this is the first time such a gesture has been put out in practice. Over 11,500 cases have been registered against stone pelters since July last year, when unrest broke out in Kashmir following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani. Out of these, over 4,500 cases were registered against youths who were found indulging in stone pelting for the first time. As part of winning hearts and minds in Kashmir these 4,500 cases of first time stone pelters will be dropped.

However, Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh  did not waste much time in stating that those "leaving arms" will be brought back to the mainstream, but "those holding guns will be given answers in the same language". This shows that anti-terror operations will continue hitherto fore. Mr Singh said, "193 terrorists have been eliminated this year and a dozen of commander have also been killed," adding that some of the terrorists have left guns and came back to their families.

These developments have come just days before the release of Hafiz Saeed  by Pakistan. Saeed immediately after his release issued a statement that he will continue to support Kashmir Movement. The release of Hafiz Saeed is likely to prove a shot in the arm for dying militancy in Kashmir and his release has been apparently engineered by Pak Army, keeping in view, the return of normalcy in Kashmir, coupled with the Indian move of appointing an Interlocutor. Pakistan fears that, with elimination of top militant leadership and surrenders, the militancy in valley will be rendered toothless. Security Forces are likely to step up their operations during winter season and with the current pace, it may happen that militancy is wiped out before onset of summers. Therefore, amnesty to first time offenders and declaration by police accepting surrenders is a welcome step and must be availed of for the peace and prosperity in Kashmir Valley.