Kashmir unrest: Government says pellet guns cannot be banned

Use of pellet guns has triggered controversy after the crowd control device left thousands blind during the current unrest. (Representative picture) Photograph:( AFP )

Srinagar Sep 07, 2016, 04.53 PM (IST)
The Mehbooba Mufti-led Jammu and Kashmir government in India has said that firing pellets on protesting people was “not unconstitutional”. The state government said this in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Kashmir High Court Bar Association seeking a ban on use of pellet guns in the conflict-torn region.

The government, facing severe criticism over the use of metal pellets, said that they could not be banned.

The ongoing unrest in the Kashmir valley has claimed 75 people while injuring many others.

“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," J&K government's advocate general Jahangir Ganaie, through an affidavit submitted in the High Court, said.

A pellet is made of small metal balls — usually aluminum and can pierce into the body of a person.

"The pellet gun is a modern method to deal with crowd control, particularly agitating mobs who resort to heavy stone pelting, rioting, arson, at the instigation of militants and separatists with the intention of causing loss of life of police personnel and those of security forces, besides the public and private property," the affidavit stated.

The Kashmir Bar Association had argued in the PIL that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on crowd control does not apply to firing of pellets as these spread up to a diameter of six meters when fired and thus the expression ‘below the knee’ does not hold ground. The pellets don’t go in one direction when fired, the PIL said.

The government has said that the law enforcement agencies start with lathi-charge, tear-gas shells, stun grenades and when these methods fail, the force is proportionately increased.