Seeks details on people blinded by its use; questions crackdown on newspapers
Srinagar: The high court asked the government to consider stopping use of pellet ammunition, which has maimed more than 600 people, mostly young people, even children.
“Nowhere in the civilized world are these pellet guns used. This was even discussed in the Parliament a day before,” observed a division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation.
“In Haryana or in Gujrat where governments faced huge protests and public property was damaged the (state) governments exercised maximum restraint. You can think about discontinuing its (pellet gun) use as it is causing a huge damage,” the bench observed and asked the Advocate General to inform it about the number of people blinded, fully or partially, by the pellets on next date of hearing in the PIL July 23 (Saturday).
At least 130 people with bullets and 600 due to pellets are among nearly 2000 people injured in firing by government forces following the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani on June 8.
The figures submitted by the government before the high court last week exclude casualties in Kulgam, one of the worst hit districts where eight people have been killed in police and paramilitary CRPF action, and Srinagar.
The court also questioned the government on the three-day ban on publication of newspapers, asking it to reveal the authority under which newspaper offices were raided.
“Tell us under which authority the papers in Kashmir were raided. There is no martial law or emergency. If the Chief Minister now disowns the ban on newspapers, then who did it?” the court said, while emphasizing that “we are living in a democratic society.”
“Ensure that they must start publication,” the court said after the Advocate General made a statement before the bench that there is no official ban on the publication of newspapers in Kashmir Valley.
“Nobody in a democratic society would accept crackdown on the newspapers. This is the position of law,” the court observed.
The bench also expressed concern over what it termed as hysteria created by some Indian news channels about Kashmir and its people.
“They are condemning all Kashmiris. The hysteria is even creating problems for the government…A young IAS officer, who wrote in a newspaper about these channels and their hysteria, has been pushed to the edge by this hysteria,” the bench observed, and asked the government to take “some action against such channels creating hysteria about Kashmir.”