India on Friday accused Pakistan of using social media to incite trouble and mobilise youth to throw stones at security forces during counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp are being used to mobilise youth to provoke them for stone pelting,” Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha after Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy raised the issue of stone-pelting on security forces in the Kashmir Valley.
The security forces fighting militants in the valley have been facing a new challenge of stone-pelters who come in groups to obstruct soldiers engaged in military operation against insurgents. The problem has been raging particularly since the July 2016 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani that led to one of the deadliest series of street protests across the valley.
Earlier this week, three civilians were killed when security forces allegedly opened fire at a group of protesting stone-pelters trying to help a besieged militant escape from the security cordon in a central Kashmir village.
Rajnath Singh said it was “a new trend (that) has begun in Kashmir”.
“When our security forces go to villages in search of terrorists, the youths of the locality start pelting stones.”
He said those indulging in stone-pelting were doing so at the behest of the neighbouring country and “the group which operates the (social media) accounts (to incite stone-pelting) are based in Pakistan”.
The minister said the security forces would continue to give a befitting reply to terrorists and infiltrators in Jammu and Kashmir and also expressed confidence that India would defeat all forms of terrorism.
He said Pakistan was trying to destabilise India by sponsoring terrorism.
“Not only Jammu and Kashmir, the terrorists are trying to destabilise the whole country through their cowardly acts. The whole country is aware of this act of Pakistan. Our security forces are retaliating against them in their own language,” he said.