Drass: The chief of the Indian Army’s Northern Command said on Tuesday that pellet guns could not be done away with as they were the ‘least lethal’ option available to the government forces. Lieutenant General DS Hooda said at a press conference held here to mark the army’s Kargil Vijay Diwas or ‘Kargil Victory Day’ that non-lethal weaponry such as pellet guns were a better means than firearms and until a better alternative is found, they will continue being used.
The army commander’s comments came a day after the Director-General of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) said that his men will continue to use the pellet gun in Kashmir in “extreme situations”.
Lt Gen Hooda said on Tuesday that he hoped better non-lethal weaponry, which is available in many other countries, would be made available to India’s armed forces. “Unfortunately, they (pellet guns) have caused some casualties. It’s still a better form than using firearms or weapons. There is much better non-lethal weaponry which is available around the world. The home minister has said that they are going to explore whether we can get some better and more modern non-lethal weaponry,” Hooda said to the media.
Hooda’s statement came days after Indian home minister Rajnath Singh urged the security forces in Kashmir to avoid using pellet guns against protesters.
Talking of the civil disturbance in the valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani, Hooda said that it was the police and CRPF, not the army, who were tackling this situation.
“It’s more of the police and the CRPF which is doing it, and they are doing it with utmost restraint. We are seeing it happening. The police have been dealing with the situation for the last 20-25 years and they know exactly what is to be done,” he said.
He however, said that sometimes there are situations when one is forced to adopt “more measures”.
“When police stations are being looted, when a murderous mob is attacking you, when your own lives are in danger, it is only in such situations that people are forced to take some more measures,” he said.
Appealing to the youth of Kashmir, Hooda acknowledged that there is angst among the population, and asked whether there is some other way of dealing with the situation.
“Can we do this in a manner in which people don’t get hurt and life doesn’t get disrupted? Our appeal to the youth is that there is a time we can sit and talk about it. Those who are trying to pick up guns or have picked up the gun, we have said this before: that please come back in the mainstream and we assure that proper rehabilitation will be carried out,” he said.