The Jammu and Kashmir police on Friday arrested a person, alleged to be the kingpin of stone-pelters in Kashmir valley, and claimed to have found documents which suggest this had fast turned into a lucrative 'business' for unemployed youths offering their 'service' for a price.
Police had launched a massive drive against stone pelters in the valley and their investigations led to a house in Bemina colony on outskirts of the city after which they found several documents suggesting his involvement in stone-pelting business for nearly last two years, official sources said.
The arrested person identified as Irshad Ahmed was interrogated by the police which recovered dozens of SIM cards, threat letters, fake press identity cards, cheque books and well maintained account registers which state the expenditure for stone pelting incidents in various parts of the valley.
The first register contained 294 names along with their photographs and mentions the details of money paid to them for their stone pelting actitivies in the last one year in downtown city, the sources said. Police claimed to have recovered sketches of roads leading from Ganderbal to Leh, a route used by army personnel to maintain essential supplies to Ladakh division, they said.
Irshad's arrest is expected to blow the lid off stone-pelting business in the valley where some youths were operating 'stone pelting' cartels funded by separatist groups and some political parties. Business worth lakhs of rupees is estimated to be generated through this activity.
Separatist groups, especially those owing allegiance to Pakistan-terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashker-e-Taiba, are alleged to have formed several groups comprising a minimum of dozen people, sources in the interrogation team said.
These groups are paid an amount ranging between Rs 5 to eight lakh, they said, adding a part of this money is handed over to another group known as "initiators" who pick up stones and start pelting on police and para-military forces.
The groups, which are alleged to have been receiving funds from a political party as well, have stationed their people in various localities and other districts of the valley, the sources said. This could be the reason for stone pelting incidents occuring in a synchronised manner throughout the valley during agitations and protests, they said.
Adding to the woes of policemen were protestors making use of stones and building material kept by government agencies on roads for construction activities.