The Centre on Thursday announced an expert committee to look into the use of pellet guns by security forces, listed as a non-lethal weapon and often employed for protestors. Speaking in the Lok Sabha, home minister Rajnath Singh said the committee will submit its report in two months.
Singh was responding to criticism over use of the guns to control mobs in the ongoing agitation in Kashmir, which inflicted injuries, in many cases critical, causing blindness in some and leading to deaths in others.
“Use of lethal weapons is avoided to control mob. This is not for the first time that pellet weapon has been used. It was first deployed in 2010,” Singh said, replying to a debate on current situation in Kashmir.
Saying that security forces had been directed to exercise “maximum restraint”, Singh nevertheless said it could not be denied if a mistake had been committed.
However, in the same breath that he expressed sadness over the loss of life, the Union minister noted that “barbarism” could have no place in society, citing that some had celebrated when security personnel were killed.
Charging Pakistan squarely for the terrorist activities, Singh said, “If there is terrorism in India, then it is Pakistan sponsored.”
Describing Jammu and Kashmir as the ‘crown’ of India, the home minister blamed Pakistan for creating disturbance in Kashmir, but expressed confidence that will normalcy would return soon.
He accused Pakistan of trying to infiltrate India, but lauded security forces for neutralizing 86 of them this year. “Pakistan need not worry about Muslims in India. We are here to take care of them,” Singh said. Quoting former prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he warned that those who try to set others house on fire, end up burning their hands.
Singh dismissed demands of a plebiscite in Kashmir saying they were outdated and have turned irrelevant. As for sending a parliamentary delegation to the Valley, he said chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is trying to normalise the situation at the moment.
Singh had planned to visit Kashmir and stay in a guest house, instead of Raj Bhawan, to communicate with locals. However Mehbooba asked him to wait until the situation improved, Singh said. The chief minister will be coming to Delhi in the next few days.
(With inputs from PTI)