Srinagar: Shopian has been notorious for pelting stones, but the district is witnessing peace, as youth involved in violence are returning to mainstream two years after the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir.
The district, which was infamous for stone-pelting for the past several years, is passing through winds of change as youths here are now concentrating on other aspects of life. Since the life of Kashmir people has undergone a change, let’s take you through the key developments.
Prior to looking at these changes, Shopian was considered a stronghold of terrorism, as 50-60 hand grenades were thrown here every day in the year 1989.
As the district is known for having apple orchards, it provided ample opportunity to hide to people involved in the violence. The terrorists had made these orchards their safe hideouts to escape from the security forces.
The majority of people in the district are below the poverty line, but youths here have always been ambitious and due to lack of opportunity and the local politics, they were reportedly disillusioned, therefore, started feeling that nothing is left for them.
In such a situation, unrest, discontent, and anger increased among them, and the terrorists took advantage of it. Because of these reasons, the area gradually became a stronghold of terrorists.
Not only this, but the border with Pakistan also played a key role as it is merely 40-45 km away from Shopian. The geographical position of this border district thereby provided a soft ground for infiltration.
There was so much hatred among youths here that they showed their anger by pelting stones at the Army personnel, but after the abrogation of Article 370, the situation has changed. The government initiative through several schemes attracted youths.
It is said that with the demonetisation, the flow of money from across the border stopped and the government gradually involved people in start-ups, and other employment schemes. The local
youths appreciated this change and started taking advantage of these government schemes.
The youths here have now left stone-pelting and have embarked upon the path of economic employment. Some have started their own restaurant and some have opened their showroom, and are moving forward taking the help of the government schemes. They are also providing jobs to people in the nearby villages.
Some have also started working in local hospitals and some are running their own food vans. The winds of change after the abrogation of Article 370 can be felt on the faces of people here.