Srinagar: Ruling PDP-led coalition government on Monday seconded New Delhi’s decision to continue the use of pellet guns, terming it “far less lethal weapon than other regular rifles like .303, AK-47, INSAS etc.”
A number of people have already been killed while thousands of others have been virtually maimed, many losing vision, partially or fully, due to the pellets. The state’s response like government of India does not withstanding the clamor, both inside Indian Parliament and the outside, against the use of the munitions.
“The pellet gun is a modern method to deal with crowd particularly agitating mobs who resort to heavy stone pelting, rioting, arson, at the instigation of militants and separatists with the intention of causing loss to life of police personnel and those of (government) forces, besides the public and private property,” state’s Director General of Police said in a reply filed before the court and sought dismissal of the Kashmir High Court Bar Association PIL, seeking court’s direction to discontinue use of pellets.
“The pellet gun, technically known as 12 Bore Pump Action Gun, is sparingly used, when all other modes of crowd control like teargas, oleoresin grenades, stun grenades fail to yield any desired results,” the highest state police officer said.
The police are presently using shot No. 9 of the pellets, which according to the DGP is smallest in size. A single cartridge contains 616 pellets.
“The use of pellet guns does not infringe Article 21 of the Constitution, (which guarantees right to life),” he said.
The DGP said that issues raised in the PIL essentially hinges on the handling of “law and order” situation and contended that the court cannot tutor how to handle it.
“It is constitutional and legal duty of the Sate to maintain law and order. As to what method is required to be given effect in order to control law and order has to be left to the State. It is submitted here that the Hon’ble Court cannot guide the law enforcing agencies to act in a particular way/manner. The court being not an expert does not recommend as to how the law and order situations are to be controlled,” the DGP said in the reply filed through state’s highest law officer, advocate general.
He claimed that the law enforcement agencies like police and paramilitary forces personnel start with lathi charge (wherever possible), tear smoke shells, stun grenades.
“When these methods fail to disperse the mob, the force is proportionately increased so as to prevent the unruly agitated mobs from causing further damage to the life and property of security personnel,” he said.
The DGP said from that July 8, when Hizb commander Burhan Wani was killed, to August 30 , a total of 1522 incidents of “violence” have been reported across Kashmir Valley.
“It resulted in loss of 58 persons including two policemen. 31 police stations/posts, two courts, 164 ambulances and 51 other establishments have been damaged during this period,” he said.
The DGP said that as many as 1431 FIRs have been registered against 813 persons accused of commission of offences under these case while 409 persons have been detained or “bound down” during the period.
“As and when an agitated, wild and unruly violent mob resorts to stone pelting, rioting, arson etc, the methods like lathi charge, persuasion, warning do not hold good for the purpose of dispersion of the mob. Use of proportionate force becomes unavoidable,” he said, adding that pellets which “is a weapon far less lethal than the regular weaponry” is resorted to by the police.
“The Standard Operative Procedures (SOP) is being followed in its totality while dealing with the protesters, agitating mob in the valley,” he said, marinating that “the use of pellet gun cannot be banned. The consequence of the use of pellet gun is yet to be determined in its totality.”