Asks state to take a conscious decision on pellet use
Srinagar: Asking the state government to take a “conscious decision” on the use of pellet guns in Kashmir, the high court on Monday questioned CRPF’s claims that only trained personnel were using the deadly ammunition, asking it to explain how large number of people suffered injuries above knees, mostly in eyes.
“They use pellet guns. Their own people suffer. They have to get doctors from outside. It is the problem created by the state itself. They have to take a conscious decision about it,” said a division bench of Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation filed by an NGO— J&K Peoples Forum through its secretary general MM Shuja last month.
“You (CRPF) are discharging the duty of controlling a mob, the crowd, but in a civilized society how you control a mob, because they are your own people. They are not aliens. They have not descended from outer space with their own pellets throwing on you. Treat them as your own people. You are not treating them as your own people,” the bench said.
The observations followed perusal of a compliance report by CRPF’s Director General, Atul Karwal, and submissions by assistant solicitor general of India S A Makroo that the paramilitary personnel handling the pellet guns were “experienced and fully trained.”
“You are not explaining how the injuries are suffered above knee, mostly the eyes are damaged. You are not explaining that. If you are trained, you are saying many things about their training, but you are not saying why the people are suffering injuries above knees and then their eyes are mostly damaged. You are not saying that,” the court said.
Karwal submitted that Indian Ministry of Home Affairs in May this year deployed 60 companies of CRPF including two ‘Mahila (women) companies’ for Amarnath Yatra from June 18 till completion of the Hindu pilgrimage.
“Also in pursuance to the Ministry of Home Affairs order conveyed through fax message on July 11 and 14, 54 training/reserve companies were also deployed additionally in the Kashmir Valley for maintaining law and order situation.
These companies are fully trained to use anti riot equipments etc in law and order duties,” Karwal said.
Each functional Battalion of CRPF has seven companies, out of which one company is always put under training on rotation basis to refresh their operational skills and acquaint themselves with the latest technology, he said.
“They are not companies formed by collecting trainees/recruits from training centre,” he added.
However, the division bench said: “It is very good to mention it on paper but the situation on the ground is different.”
“It is very good to mention on paper that you are trained, that you are fit to deal with this gun, but on the ground, the situation is different because we have evidence submitted by the state government about the people who have suffered injuries above knees and mostly in their eyes due to pellets. See, if you are controlling a crowd, you have to follow your own standard operating procedure also in doing that.”
It asked the CRPF to think about the use of pellet guns in the light of the statement of Home Minister Rajnath Singh in parliament and also asked it to find an alternative to it.
“Why don’t you think about it? Your own Home Minister said avoid its use. It is the Home Minister of the country saying avoid its use. Why don’t you find alternative methods?” the court said and posted the case for further consideration on August 9.