Jammu: Paramilitary forces operating in the state have been restricted from using arms only while dealing with the law and order problem while the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for them remained unchanged , the state government said Friday.
“The SOP for security forces to deal with militancy is unchanged in the state. Forces are equipped with weapons everywhere. However it is only at the time of dealing with law and order problem that they have been restricted to carry batons only,” Minister of State of Home, Sajjad Kitchloo told the Assembly.
He said that there is “misunderstanding among some people that the security forces are not allowed to carry their weapons.”
The statement came after government was criticized by the opposition parties including NPP and rebel BJP group in the Assembly for ordering forces personnel to carry batons while on duty.
As per a recent security review meeting, the SOP mandated that one-third of the personnel while dealing with law and order situation would carry arms and the rest will carry only batons and ‘non-lethal’ weapons.
Immediately after the question hour in the Assembly was over, NPP and BJP rebel group members stood up and criticized the government for not allowing the forces personnel to carry weapons.
“Security forces have been ordered to fight militants with batons in their hands. How can they face militants carrying sophisticated weapons? The security forces have been demoralized and made easy targets of militants,” said NPP leader Harshdev Singh.
“The recent militant attacks on CRPF and BSF are only outcome of this directive. Forces will not fight in this situation,” he said.
However, Kitchloo said that the CRPF and BSF personnel were armed when they were attacked by the militants. “SOP has nothing to do with the militant attacks,” he said.
Kitchloo said that the militants “always attack according to a well-prepared plan and target security forces when they are less prepared and are in markets or some other places.”
Kitchloo was supported by some National Conference legislators including Mustafa Kamal and Abdul Gani Malik.
“SOP for security forces to deal with militants has not been changed. If anyone has a doubt then government should give copies to all the members in the House to go through it,” said Kamal.
However, the opposition members were not satisfied with the government response and created uproar in the House before staging walkout.