Whatever the CRPF might say, using pellet guns violates human rights | editorials | Hindustan Times
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Whatever the CRPF might say, using pellet guns violates human rights

It is important – and imperative – for the government and its agencies to remember that Kashmir has often passed through such phases of perceived calm and surface-normalcy. Trouble is always one stone or one pellet away. A serious review of the pellet gun and other repressive measures must begin, sooner rather than later.

editorials Updated: Jan 10, 2017 16:57 IST
The use of pellet guns should be banned as such injuries life threatening
The use of pellet guns should be banned as such injuries life threatening (HT)

Truth and reconciliation are important first steps for conflict resolution but the paramilitary forces – the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in particular – have not covered themselves in glory by refusing to divulge details pertaining to the use of pellet guns during last year’s unrest in the Kashmir Valley.

Read: CRPF denies RTI query on pellet guns, says there were no human rights violations

The pellets, which were used liberally to crush protests that began after the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani, inflicted a lot of damage on protesters. The pellet guns went on to become a symbol of oppression. The controversial weapon came under opposition scrutiny and home minister Rajnath Singh was forced to set up a committee, which advised that it be used only in rare and pressing circumstances.

The Central Reserve Police Force , however, has now refused to part with information on the standard operating procedures for the usage of the lethal weapon. Worse, in response to activist Venkatesh Nayak’s Right to Information (RTI) query, the force has held that the use of the weapon did not constitute a “human rights violation.”

Read: Apply mind before using pellet guns: Supreme Court

It is this sort of obfuscation and refusal to be transparent that has prolonged the crisis. The use of pellet guns should be banned as the injuries are life threatening. Shooting at people and blinding them do constitute human rights violations, whatever the Central Reserve Police Force might say.

The paramilitary forces must realise that they were responsible for maiming and killing Kashmiris and admit that there were lapses. An admission will go a long way in bridging the trust deficit between the State and the Kashmiris. The next step should be to reduce the repressive security measures. But language used by the CRPF in the RTI reply shows that it is no mood to reconcile. The government appears to have taken its eye off Kashmir now that the severe winter in the Valley has scaled down protests.

Read: Army backs pepper shots, chilli grenades over pellet guns in Kashmir

It is important – and imperative – for the government and its agencies to remember that Kashmir has often passed through such phases of perceived calm and surface normalcy. Trouble is always one stone or one pellet away. A serious review of the pellet gun and other draconian measures must begin sooner rather than later.