As tensions escalate in Kashmir between mobs led by stone pelting teenagers and the security forces, the fear that the situation might spin out of control has forced Jammu and Kashmir police to pass orders that no security personnel can carry firearms while dealing with mobs. The forces have been asked to be in complete riot protection gear and use only accepted mob control measures like teargas and batons.
The order which has been passed by Inspector General of Jammu and Kashmir, S M Sahai, has been communicated to other forces including CRPF as well.
The decision has been taken following dead of three teenagers. One 16-year old boy was killed in a firing incident by CRPF on Sunday evening whereas two boys were allegedly drowned after being chased by forces.
Both the incidents happened in North Kashmir. While Sahai refused to confirm the contents of the letter to CRPF saying its an `internal matter between the forces', he however said that the directive of not using firearms while dealing with mobs applies to all the forces.
"If the directive has come from Jammu and Kashmir police it applies to us as well," said Sahai. "The directive is for dealing with mobs, in case of trouble there is always a second line of command," he added.
According to sources the measure was taken as government didn't want a repeat of `summer of 2010 in which 117 people mostly teenagers were killed. The unrest was triggered by death of a 16-year old boy, who was killed by a tear gas shell. The boy, Tufail Mattoo, according to family was on his way to tuition classes.
"The summer of 2010 was all about teenage defiant teenage boys hurling rocks at the police and paramilitary personnel and inturn being killed by indiscriminate firing by the security forces. The cycle of death continued, one killing led to another and things went out of control and every killing gave more strength to the agitation,'' said an official who did not want to be named.
Stone pelting has become a routine feature of street protests in Srinagar since the summer of 2008. However in 2010 the intensity was something which was never seen before.
Omar Abdullah government was blamed for not handling the situation properly and not controlling security forces who were retaliating stones thrown with firing.